(Lk. 3:15) “And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;”
The Israelites loved Christ. He was in their thoughts and their songs. They longed for the day of His Coming when, taking His rightful throne, He would “make an end of sins” and “bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan. 9:24-25). The angel Gabriel had foretold Christ’s appearance around five hundred years earlier and so all Israel was in a state of excited expectancy as they considered whether or not John the Baptist was the long-expected Messiah.
Even today, the average Jew knows more about Christ than most Christians. Because of Gabriel’s words to Daniel, practicing Jews understand that Christ must make an end of sins when He appears. Failure to do so would negate His claim as the Messiah. The Acceptance of sin among most Christians is proof to the Jews that Jesus is not the Christ. To them, it is a mockery of all that Christ was prophesied to accomplish when we teach that Jesus will forgive you over and over again; for the same sins while you continue the sin. So, while they love Christ their Messiah, they hate Jesus.
Those that plotted Jesus’s death did not believe they were killing Christ: “for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). In their zeal, they were doing what was necessary to rid the nation of Jesus, whom they perceived to be a threat to their religion. Even Saul of Tarsus loved Christ, but hated Jesus. He did not understand that the two were one in the same, until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5).
We find an altogether different situation within the church house today. So-called Christians readily profess a love for Jesus as the embodiment of every good and perfect thing that God has for His People. We sing of His love for us and our love for Him. In fact, much contemporary Christian music is so generic that it may refer to Jesus as well as one’s lover or even a loyal pet. We want Janitor Jesus to come in and fix it so we can enjoy our life as we wish.
The problem with such thinking is that it is doing in reverse to Christ what the Jews did concerning Jesus. We love our idea of Jesus, but, we reject the thought that Christ came to make an end of sins. We love to say that Jesus covers our sin, took our penalty, or hides us from God’s eyes; even though Scripture never actually says any of this. Yet, we never lay hold to the Truth that Jesus is “…the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
Like the Jews, our idea of Christ making an end of sin pertains to society as a whole. We look at the presence of sin in the world, and we make excuses for the reason that Jesus did not fulfill His mission. We sheepishly say, ‘This will be fulfilled in some as yet-future ‘coming,’ since it obviously did not happen 2,000 years ago.’ To the Christian, Jesus has not done that yet; while to the Jews, Jesus has failed as the Christ.
Both views rely on a faulty understanding of the scope of Christ’s work. Christ reigns in righteousness (Rom. 5:21) and emphatically declared that His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36), but, is within the individual believer (Lk. 17:21). The mystery hidden from the Jews and still not discerned by most Christians is “Christ in you, the Hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27). “in you” is where Christ rules; and “in you” is where He made an end of sin, bring in everlasting righteousness.
And we know that “He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin” (1 Jn. 3:5). This is the Truth that makes us free of sin (Jn. 8:32): that Christ has taken away the sin of those who trust in Him. If the Jews had received Jesus as the Christ, they would have known the glory of His Kingdom and escaped the Wrath of God in 70 A.D. However, their love for Christ could not save them as long as they rejected Jesus.
“If ye believe not that I (Jesus) am He (Christ), ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24)
Likewise, those Christians who love an idea of Jesus the ‘Friend of sinners’ whom they believer accepts them in their sin, but reject Christ who came and died in order to take away their sin, will one day discover that their love of Jesus will not save them from God’s Judgment. Jesus is the Christ: you cannot separate the two; neither can you accept nor reject one without the other.
Dear friend, as you read this message, you may wonder what strange doctrine is being presented, that Jesus the Christ took away our sin. Search the Scriptures and know the glorious liberty that is ours in Christ. Rather than accept sin as a natural, unavoidable fact of life, stand on the Gospel Truth that Christ has made you free from sin (Rom. 8:2). People don’t struggle with sin because it is in their path, but, because it is in their heart. Through Faith in Jesus, the Christ, and His shed blood, sin is washed away (Rev. 1:5) and we are made “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).