How Jesus takes away our sin

Cross-sinWhen John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), in what way should we look at this wonderful declaration?

Of course, we must first see that it’s Jesus Himself who is the means for the total eradication of the sin of the whole world.

He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world.  (1 John 2:2 CEB)

But we shouldn’t look at what Jesus did for us like the Old Testament animal sacrifices. The Cross wasn’t some new version of an angry pagan deity who needed a virgin sacrifice or he burns the village. Actually, I think God was arguing against that version of Himself throughout the Old Testament, although this paradigm was deeply embedded in the hearts of the people He had called out from the religious bondage of the Babylonian/Egyptian cult gods.

These sacrifices only covered sins and reminded us of them over and over again. It demonstrated God’s forbearance (Rom.3:21-26), but the writer of Hebrews makes clear that this wasn’t what He was ever after (emphasis mine):

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.” (Heb. 10:3-4 NKJV)

The psalmist says the same thing and then tells us that all God ever wanted was our hearts.

16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17 NKJV)

I agree with Michael Hardin when he says that, because of His other-centered love, we should see Jesus on the cross absorbing all our sin unto Himself like a big black hole.

“Jesus’ death must be of another order if it is neither a murder nor a sacrifice.  It is this new category, this new way of thinking that the apostolic witness seeks to open up.  This new way is that of Jesus’ self-offering.  Like a black hole sucking in everything, so Jesus’ death absorbs all of our violence and our death dealing paradigms.”  (The Jesus-Driven Life, loc. 7593, Kindle Edition)

This is a great way to look at what Christ did with the sin of mankind. Here’s a short NASA clip showing what a black hole does to a passing star. Imagine that star is your sin….

Your sin is like that star, destroyed and totally absorbed into the black hole of Love!

I’ve already talked about what the “sin of the world” actually is on this blog, so I won’t elaborate on that here. Since the Reformation we’ve tended to look at sin legalistically,  as an infraction or violation of God’s Law that must be appeased by an angry God. This view of the Godhead is conflicted, at best. And this view of sin is nothing more than a superficial understanding of something much more insidious and sinister lurking inside of every human heart.

Sin is better understood as a “tragic flaw” that keeps us from becoming fully human (See my post titled, “Missing the mark.”)

The phrase, “taken away” in John 1:29 is from an interesting Greek word: αἴρω (airō).  It means to take up, lift, raise; bear, carry; take away, remove; destroy, kill (Mounce).

This word, airō, tells me a lot about the Cross.

It tells me that Jesus came to “take up” our sin and “raise” it on a pole for the whole world to see (John 3:14-17), for the Cross does not reveal the anger and retribution of God, but Love healing the anger and need for retributive violence in us.

You see, just like Adam in the Garden, we tried to blame God for the crucifixion. And like all religious myths, we’ve made Him the angry deity needing appeasement. But the Cross unmasked what we, the angry mob, always do whenever we encounter Pure Love (see “Our Father is not Molech” for my parabolic explanation); it forever exposed the “Cain” raging in us.

As René Girard said, it’s “a founding murder in reverse, which illuminates what has to remain hidden to produce ritual, sacrificial religions.”

And Robert Capon would say that Jesus’ death on the cross is “the announcement of the end of religion.”

HeresmyheartThe Cross reveals that Love “bears all things” (1 Cor.13:7). It also tells us that God has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12)

Just like what the black hole did to the star in the video clip, the Cross reminds us that Jesus totally destroyed our sin forever!

Jesus didn’t just pay a court fine to a Cosmic Judge. He has obliterated every lie that kept us blinded and hiding from God. He reconciled our fear-based thinking, our wrath, and our enmity…with His unfailing love! He has put the whole misguided and broken race of Adam to death, and put death in the grave! And because of this act of ultimate love, we can “partake of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4)—His resurrection life! Hallelujah!

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:14-15, 17, 19 NIV)

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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10 Responses to How Jesus takes away our sin

  1. paulfg says:

    Mel, as I read your wonderful words – a whisper: “I did all this or you.” And then the imagery and pictures …

    Of “miracles” that were a brief word – that were done “in absentia” – as well as the dramatic “performance” miracles. That the cross and the nails and the pain and the blood and the gore – that was for us. He could have (not even) said a word and it would be so. Yet – even with all the cross and pain – we struggle. Imagine if there had been no cross, not trial, no nails, no gore – but one verse in the bible: “It is done.” How then would we have struggled even more than we do since then? We need the “show”. We needed it then and we need it still. And we have the temerity to accuse Him of “needing” blood, of “needing” to kill His only son, of barbarity, of “paganism” in religious language. Or the alternative: the MEGA Sacrifice to end all sacrifices! Blood and more blood everywhere! We wash ourselves in it – we wallow in it – we love it (which never sat well with me). God or Jesus or the “cosmic” vibrations – He never needed that – we did!

    And I have never seen that till reading your post and allowing Him to whisper! Thank you!!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Wow, Paul! Awesome. Thanks for sharing your insights. I love what you said here…

      “We need the “show”. We needed it then and we need it still.”

      That is exactly it, my friend. The Cross shows us what was in our orphaned hearts, that stays hidden otherwise.The Cross was God’s antidote for the “snake bite” in the Garden (John 3:14-17). The Cross was for us; it wasn’t for God…at least in the way we think it is was. It WAS for God because of His relentless, furious love! He couldn’t bear to see us lost and living under the religious illusions that kept us separated from Him. The Father wanted His kids back and sent His beloved Son on a rescue mission. It was a total success! The Door is wide open to all of us! We just need to walk through it. And that’s REALLY good news! 🙂

      • paulfg says:

        I think your words need a wider audience. I have seen so many comments of adulation for being washed in blood, and so many of intense anger that “Christians” worship a God who demands a blood sacrifice of His own Son no less! On the one hand the adulation of and for blood always feels make me “itchy”, and for the “attack” of “how dare He” – a direct hit below the blood(water)line. You have something really important here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks again, Paul. You’re right, we’ve had this picture of God that we called love that’s rather repulsive to thinking people. This atonement theory (Penal Substitution) has been responsible for creating more atheists than any other. And some of our language (like “washed in the blood”) is very strange. But this 16th century paradigm about the atonement and the Cross are getting a serious upgrade (and, really, we should always be upgrading, not the Bible, but our understanding). It wasn’t totally wrong; it’s just inadequate and paints a very bad picture of the Father.

          But as to the greater audience, I agree, but I am only one voice among a growing number of people who are seeing it. There’s really good scholarship out on this alternative view now and many good books out on the subject. I’ve mentioned a few on my blog. But most Christians don’t read scholars, and it’s not the popular fare for preaching, so I am attempting to relay the wonderful things going on in this regard, adding my own amateurish thoughts into the mix. I believe that in 50 years, this will be the common view. But, for now, we need to keep banging this drum so everyone will see just how good the good news of God’s redeeming love really is! Dad’s not mad! He loves us! 🙂
          Blessings to you, bro.

  2. So, were the passages and stories in the Old Testament about an angry wrath filled and sometimes hating God just the skewed and ignorant ideas of people?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your question, but that’s a hard one to answer in a comment section here. I have addressed this in more detail in other posts. The short answer is, if God doesn’t sound or act the way Jesus sounded or acted, how He treated people, taught about His Father, loved His enemies, demonstrated love and compassion, then whatever the Old Testament (OT) people thought God was like would be mistaken. Keep in mind, Jesus was constantly challenging their view of God during His ministry.They wanted a retributive, vengeful Messiah who would wipe out their enemies (Rome). Jesus would have none of that. Whenever the disciples tried to be retributive, Jesus would rebuke them (e.g., Luke 9:53-56). Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say…” six times in Matthew 5 (and they had “heard it said” in the Law of Moses!) Whenever Jesus quoted an OT passages, He would omit retributive verses, like in Luke 4:18-20 (cf., Isa.61:1-2).

      Jesus said that no one knows the Father except the Son, and John said that no one ever saw God and Jesus has explained Him to us (Matt.11:27; John 1:18). That means that whatever contradicts Jesus’ explanation is not what God is really like. Jesus interprets the Bible for us, not the text. Jesus always trumps the text (John 5:39-40). Otherwise, you end up with a dangerously conflicted Godhead, and atheists like Richard Dawkins would be right.

  3. Thank you, Mel, for the response. This makes perfect sense to me.

  4. Cindy Powell says:

    A black hole sucking in sin. LOVE it. Love even more that it is really finished. If we could only learn to live and love from that reality all the time. So so good. Blessings to you Mel – you are giving people language for things their hearts want to believe.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Cindy. Much appreciated, as always. 🙂 I agree, the key is living and loving from this reality. Perfect love truly casts out all fear of punishment. It also connects our hearts together instead of separating us from each. We’re not just pardoned criminals; we’re a new creation, brought together into His life!

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