I have long wished that in heaven I might get to see the entire history of Christ’s earthly life, from his birth to his ascension – viewing each and every act of obedience.
The reason is simple. Jesus lived a representative life. Jesus lived a sinless life. Christ’s life was, therefore, a life of representative sinlessness. Our Lord’s obedience- and law-keeping is counted as the obedience- and law-keeping of those who have faith in him.
Christ’s sinless life is set against the background of the scriptural testimony to the sinfulness of man. Solomon acknowledged, “There is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46).
The Apostle John warned, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” and “make him a liar” (1 John 1:8; 10).
Romans 3:10 declares, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” When the Son of God took to himself a human nature, a sinless man entered into time and space.
In a life that spanned three decades, our Lord never entertained a thought, never uttered a word and never carried out an action defiled by impure motives. He always honored his Father in heaven and his earthly parents. He never lusted, never uttered a word in sinful anger, never gossiped about or slandered his neighbor, never stole, never lied and never coveted.
In short, he submitted to every commandment of the law of God without wavering. He loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and loved his neighbor as himself.
The Bible expressly declares that Jesus was sinless. The writer of Hebrews tells us he was “without sin” (Heb. 4:16) – that he was “holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners.”
The apostle Paul boldly asserts that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). At the announcement of his birth, an Angel called him, “that holy one who is to be born.”
Pilate’s wife told her husband, “Have nothing to do with that just man.” Pilate himself said, “I find no fault in him.”
The dying thief acknowledged the innocence of Jesus when he said, “This Man had done nothing wrong.”
The centurion at the foot of the cross said, “Certainly this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). Even the demons recognized that Jesus was “the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34). He was “obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8).
In regard to the commands that God gave to the covenant people, we find that Christ fulfilled them in the place of his people. At the beginning of his public ministry, he underwent a baptism “of repentance,” though he was the only one who needed no repentance.
When John tried to stop him from being baptized, Jesus said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus is it fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was obeying as the representative of his people.
When we speak of Christ’s obedience, we can sometimes mistakenly reduce it merely to his obedience to the moral law. While it’s true that he perfectly obeyed the Ten Commandments on behalf of his people, he also obeyed the mediatorial commands God the Father specifically gave to him in eternity – commands that were more difficult than any given to us.
Besides those moral and ceremonial laws, Jesus was commanded to “lay down his life willingly, and take it again.”
“This command,” Jesus said, “I have received from my Father” (John 10:17).
Our redemption rests upon Christ’s sinless life and substitutionary death. When we see the corruption of our minds, hearts and wills, we must look in faith to the one who knew no sin and yet was made sin for us.