Who Is The World’s Greatest Sinner? Why Is The Answer So Relevant Today?
In Bible studies I have at times asked a provocative question to stimulate discussion, “Who is the world’s greatest sinner? Who is the most sinful; the vilest person the world has ever known?” In response to this question I often get answers like, Bin Laden, the Unibomber, Hitler, Ted Bundy, Saddam Hussein, etc… After several moments of brainstorming on this subject, I usually throw out an uncharacteristic answer to simply grab people’s attention, “What about Jesus Christ?” Without hesitation I find that I am bombarded with dropped jaws and thoughts of, “I don’t know if our pastor is serious, trying to be funny, or is just a heretic.” Actually, as you read this you may be ready to label me a heretic and delete this article from your screen, but hold on just for a moment, let me explain now that I have your attention.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Isaiah 53:6 it says that Jesus, the suffering servant, was made to be sin; God laid all our wrongdoings on Him. On the cross Jesus didn’t become a sinner but God charged all that is sin in us against Christ. In Matthew 27:46 we see the anguish of Christ on the cross when He cries out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” That Good Friday from 12:00-3:00 PM, God the Father forsook Jesus. This was in judgment of the sin that was laid upon Jesus, your sin and mine. In other words, with our sin and guilt, Christ felt God’s wrath, verdict of condemnation, and rejection in His soul, just as if He had personally committed all the sins of mankind. Then at 3:00 PM Jesus said, “Τετέλεσται,” it is finished.
How can anything be more relevant and matter more than this? Nothing can! Hear why this is relevancy at its best:
“Whenever you feel remorse in your conscience on account of sin, look at the bronze serpent, Christ on the cross (John 3:14–15). Against your sin, which accuses and devours, you will find there another sin. But this other sin, namely, that which is in the flesh of Christ, takes away the sin of the world. It is omnipotent, and it damns and devours your sin. Lest your sin accuse and damn you, it is itself damned by sin, that is, by Christ the crucified, ‘who for our sake was made to be sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor. 5:21). Thus in your flesh you find a death that afflicts and kills; but you also have a contrary death, which is the death of your death and which crucifies and devours your death. All these things happen, not through the Law or works but through Christ the crucified, on whose shoulders lie all the evils of the human race—the Law, sin, death, the devil, and hell—all of which die in Him, because by His death He kills them.”
Have a blessed Holy Week and especially a blessed Good Friday, as we remember the one who was made to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God.
 Modified quote (for syntax) from Martin Luther. Luther, Martin. (1999). Vol. 26: Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.) (159–160). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
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