Scripture presents Jesus of Nazareth as both fully God and fully human and says that Jesus avoided sin entirely. He never misses the goal of loving every human being in the ways of God.
He teaches his followers that the most important instruction from God, the one that sums up the whole law and the prophets, is to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40). He’s restating the essential nature and original goal of real human life. The Apostle Peter says that Jesus “committed no sin, yet he carried our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to our sins and live to do what is right” (1 Peter 2:22-24).
Because of God’s unbreakable love for each of us, we can be honest about the ways we miss the goal (khata’/sin), bend or distort what is good (avon/iniquity), and fracture relationships (pesha/transgression). We can put an end to the obsessive conversations about good guys versus bad guys or who is right or wrong and, instead, love everyone as God does. By doing so, we move sin into the good light that Jesus generates, and we start to understand its weakness compared to God’s loving strength. We can learn to master it rather than allowing it to rule over us.
The Hebrew Bible’s authors were telling a story that was pointing to Jesus, and the New Testament authors teach us that Jesus is the one who shows humanity how to “die to our sins and live to do what is right” (1 Peter 2:22-24). The more we immerse ourselves in his story, the more we realize that avoiding sin has everything to do with right relationships with God and others.
During ordinary life or dedicated seasons such as Lent, when we reflect on sin and its corrupting effects, we remember from Scripture that Jesus is the mark, the true goal. Loving others as he does is to escape sin’s corruption and become fully human and truly alive.
And that’s the memo.
By The Bible Project