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Beit Emunah Congregation
Throughout rural America and often in urban areas, one will see signs and other modalities proclaiming the phrase: "Jesus Saves," not to mention men holding such signs at sports events. I've often wondered if these men are married to wives they must appease for having spent family time and money to attend sporting events, "But honey, I must go to the game, it's my ministry..."
Be that as it may...
We have the question, did Jesus sin?
Why ask this question? Because for Way Followers and others, truth matters. Christian dogma and the ever-present "Jesus Saves" proclamations state that Yeshua was a perfect human, without sin. But this contradicts the Tanach and the New Testament:Psalm 53 1: The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; no one does good. God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.Likewise, Paul wrote:Romans 3:10 as it is written:
"None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together, they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
According to standard Christian belief and established Church dogma, Jesus lived a perfect and sin-free life. Indeed, many Christians believe that Yeshua/Jesus was the only person in history who never sinned throughout his life, but note the passage of Psalms above: no, not one. Had Yeshua been God incarnate, that would surely be the case, but was he? These two issues can't be divided since only HaShem is perfect and without sin.
Hebrews 4:14-16 says that,"Yeshua was tempted [Peirazo] in every way that we are, but he did not sin."And James adds at James 1:13:Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He tempts no one."
Hebrews says Yeshua was "tempted" like the rest of us. The James verse in Greek is even more revealing. It more literally says: Let no one say when he is [Peirazo: tempted], "I am being [Peirazo] by God," for God cannot [Esti: third person singular of "to be"] with evil, and He [Peirazo] no one. What's the difference? God does tempt people to do evil, "nor is He evil." In other words, only an evil person [Kakos: one of a bad or negative nature] can be tempted! What does this tell us? See the following verse:1:14 But every man is tempted and enticed when his lust draws him away.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
So, if Yeshua was tempted to sin like all people, he could not have been God, who is never tempted.
What is sin? It depends on who you ask.
Traditional Judaism teaches that humans are born essentially "good." Judaism has no concept of 'original sin' as the Church teaches (but does acknowledge the negative impact of the couple's choice to "eat the fruit"). We believe in 'original blessings.' As first and second-century Jews, Derech Yeshua (the Jewish Way sect) would have shared this understanding. Nothing in Yeshua's reforms challenges this traditional principle. Such a concept, in fact, is counter to biblical and Jewish thought. We come into this world with basically clean slates, untainted by the sins of our forbearers, and are accountable for our own errors:The Lord replied to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot out of my book. Now, lead the people to the place I spoke of; my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin" - Shemot (Exodus) 32:33, 34.
Sin, het in Hebrew, is the result of our human inclinations, our yetzer hara, which must be channeled appropriately. Without the freedom to observe the twin impulses of yetzer hara (negative, selfish) and yetzer tov (positive, selfless), there would be no free will, and we would not have the ability to "Choose Life." Free will make this possible."What is free will? If you want, you do it, and if you don't want, you don't do it" - Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan II, 110
Het (sin) literally means something that goes astray. It is a term used in archery to indicate that the arrow has missed its target, its "bull's eye." This concept of sin suggests a straying from the correct ways, from what is good and straight. For the Jew, the Way of Torah is good and straight. So, sin can be defined as violating the teachings of the Torah. Did Yeshua/Jesus violate the teachings of the Torah? Let's see.
Compare the following verses:" Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk."Were the rabbis correct that carrying a bed on the Shabbat is a sin? Consider:
Immediately, the man was healed, took up his bed, and walked.
According to John's account, he did this miracle on a Sabbath. The Jews, therefore, said to the healed man, "It is the Sabbath day. It is not lawful for you to carry your bed."
He answered them, "He who healed me said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.' ”
So they asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?"
Now the healed man did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in that place - John 5:8-13:" So said the Lord: Beware for your souls and carry no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring into the gates of Jerusalem. Neither shall you take a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day nor shall you perform any labor, and you shall hallow the Sabbath day as I commanded your forefathers." (Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah 17:21-23)
So yes, the rabbis were correct. Jesus instructed the man to commit a sin against the Shabbat. Hence, Jesus sinned just as the Gospel account itself says: "It is the Sabbath day. It is not lawful for you to carry your bed."
When accused, rather than making teshuvah (repentance), Jesus committed another sin:The man went away and told the Jews that Jesus had made him well. For this reason, the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him because he did these things on the Sabbath.Clearly, Yeshua committed sins according to the Gospels themselves:
But Jesus answered them, "My Father is still working, so I am working, too."
For this cause, therefore, the Jews sought all the more to kill him because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
"And you, speak to the children of Israel and say: 'Only keep My Sabbaths! For it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I, the Lord, make you holy.
Therefore, keep the Sabbath, for it is a sacred thing for you. Those who desecrate it shall be put to death, for whoever performs work on it, that soul will be cut off from the midst of its people. Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever performs work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.'
Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant - Sh'mot/Exodus 31:12-16
Note that "the children of Israel [are commanded to] observe the Sabbath," not the Gentiles.
This is just one example of Yeshua/Jesus committing sins. Many more could be cited. Those who are sincere and honest about these matters and who read this must admit that Jesus was not "without sin" according to their own scriptures, and therefore, the Nicene Church's claims about him are suspect at best.
I do not share this to "trash Jesus" nor to come across as a "legalist." I hope people will look beyond what they have been taught and examine the Tanach and the New Testament for what they say, not for what Mediaeval Catholic bishops convinced people of. The New Testament does not teach "Christianity." Today, what most believe about Jesus has little to do with the historic Yeshua ben Miriam.
We cannot know precisely what the historic Yeshua believed or taught. We believe he was a religiously observant and pious Jew and was troubled by what he saw as a moving away from the Sinai Covenant into the Rabbinic Talmudic religion it became. He criticizes the change often, calling it 'the teachings of men rather than the teachings of God.' The New Testament presents him in many different lights. However, we know that whatever he taught, whatever he believed, the Rabbis who questioned him, who considered his claims, determined that he was a danger to the Jewish people and that certain of his teachings violated Torah, as demonstrated here.
Did he consider himself the Messiah? Again, contradictory statements are found:So Pilate entered his headquarters again, called Jesus, and asked, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born, and for this purpose, I have come into the world: to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" -- John 18:33-38So Yeshua/Jesus says no, he is not Messiah ben David, King of the Jews. He considered himself to be a spiritual teacher and reformer. he acknowledges here that his talmidim (students) would readily take up arms and fight if he so ordered, but "My kingdom is not of this world." The kingdom of the Messiah will very much be "of this world."
But wait, we also have this:The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah comes, he who is called Christ. When he has come, he will declare to us all things."
Jesus told her, "I am he, the one who speaks to you." - John 4;25, 26.
We also have Yeshua's "interesting omission:"
One Shabbat, shortly after beginning his three-and-a-half-year ministry, Yeshua entered his home synagogue in Nazareth. As is the tradition, he stood to do a Haftarah reading. This event is recorded in Luke 4:16-20. For his section, Yeshua read from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. Read the quote in the New Testament first, and then read the source text in Isaiah. See if you notice anything different.
This is a good research exercise. Serious students must be honest about what the texts say! Much confusion comes when people fail not only to consider the context but, in many cases like this one, to see what the texts themselves actually say because of their preexisting belief systems! This study error is disturbingly common. We must not allow ourselves to "go on autopilot" when reading the Bible!Luke 4:18,19 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me; therefore he has anointed me to announce Good News to the poor; he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned and renewed sight for the blind, to release those who have been crushed,Now read the section from which he was reading:
to proclaim a year of the favor of the LORD."Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me because the LORD has anointed me to announce good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives, to let out into light those bound in the dark;
2 to proclaim the year of the favor of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.
See anything interesting?
Yeshua did not quote the entire verse! He omitted Isaiah's ending: "and the day of vengeance of our God..."
Why would he do that?
The only logical explanation is that his omission was intentional. Yeshua knew he would not be HaMashiach (i.e., the Messiah), neither Mashiach ben David nor Mashiach ben Yosef! He knew he would not fulfill the messianic prophecies nor take up the mantle of King of Israel as the Messiah must do! He did believe he was an anointed messenger of God to his people, but not their Messiah.
Not only did he omit the critical Messianic section, but he also completed his reading this acknowledgment:Luke 4:21 He started to speak to them: "Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanach was fulfilled!"
"As you heard it read," in other words, as I edited it. Yeshua knowingly edited the prophecy because he knew he would not fulfill it from the very beginning of his ministry, despite what he seems to have told the Samaritan woman at the well!
Yeshua believed he had been anointed (Hebrew mashiach) to call the Jewish people to teshuvah (repentance). According to most Gospel texts, he did not believe he would be their Messiah. He viewed himself as a religious reformer and spiritual teacher, not as the King of the Jews. He further stated:I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will - John 5:30
He desired that his talmidim or students commit themselves to HaShem and His Torah, just as Yeshua believed he did.that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us so that the world will believe that you sent me - John 17:21.
Yeshua considered himself to be a tzadik, which is to say, a righteous person who had harmonized his will with the Divine Will (something no real tzaddik would ever claim for himself!). He wanted his talmidim to attain that same spiritual oneness with HaShem. True tzadikim like Rebbe Nachman and Saba Israel desired the same for their talmidim.
But again, whatever the misunderstood historic Yeshua ben Miriam actually believed and taught, he has been rejected by every generation of Rabbinic authority since his days on earth. To rule as king, Mashiach ben David must be accepted by them.
Sincere seekers do well to study traditional Torah Judaism, the religion Yeshua and his followers practiced. Derech Noahide: The Way of the Seven Law Covenant granted to non-Jews is a good foundation.
From now on, when you see a sign emblazoned with the slogan "Jesus saves," read instead: "Jesus Sins" and understand that while he was a charismatic Jewish reformer, he was also a fallible Jewish teacher without the ability to save anyone.
Our God is the God who saves, HaShem, the sovereign Lord, alone can rescue from death
ONLY HaShem Saves!
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* By John of AllFaith, © August 02, 2017, updated November 19, 2023
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