Jesus lived a sinless life filled with miracles.
"And many of the people believed in Him, and said, 'When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?'" (John:7:31).
Living a sinless life, as unique as that would be, wouldn't necessarily prove someone is God. However, since Jesus claimed that He was God, and lived a sinless and virtuous life and backed up His claim with miracles, that is a different matter.
The Bible states that "sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John:3:4, King James Version). Paul tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans:3:23).
Later Paul says, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans:6:23). God will not compromise with His holy and righteous law. Jesus said that "one jot or tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matthew:5:18). The penalty for breaking that law will be paid.
Since we have all sinned, we have all earned death, as Paul says. That is the fate of all human beings— unless someone came along and satisfied the law's demands. Jesus did this. And, as we will see in a later chapter, it took God to do this. No life of an ordinary human being could be sufficient to satisfy the law's demand for all of humanity. A life that could satisfy the penalty for the sins of all of us would have to be greater than that of all of us—the life of the very Creator Himself.
This—that the Creator God would be the one to die for human beings so they might live—was thought out before the creation of humanity ever took place. Jesus, as we have seen, is the Creator of all things—and therefore greater than all things, and within Him is the inherent value to satisfy the demand.
It was essential for Jesus, therefore, to live a sinless life. "Him who never knew sin God made to be Sin, on our behalf; so that we, through union with him, might become the Righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians:5:21, Twentieth Century New Testament).
He became the offering for sin that the law expected. "And it is in the fulfillment of the will of God that we have been purified by the sacrifice, once and for all, of the body of Jesus Christ" (Hebrews:10:10, TCNT).
Jesus knew this was a major purpose of His coming to earth to live as a human being. "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour" (John:12:27).
A sinless life laid down for us
The prophet Isaiah tells us that God the Father "laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah:53:6) and "for the transgressions of My people He was stricken" (verse 8). Then Isaiah asserts His innocence—"He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth" (verse 9).
Peter, picking up on Isaiah's words after Jesus' death, confirms that this was so. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 'who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth'; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body" (1 Peter:2:21-24).
This is an amazing legacy! No sin—not in word, deed or even thought, even under the greatest temptation and stress! Hebrews:4:15 says it this way: He "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
Some people may claim to be righteous, maybe even perfect. But few will take them seriously, especially those well acquainted with them. But with Jesus, those closest to Him—who traveled with Him, ate with Him and walked and talked with Him constantly throughout His ministry—testified to and were willing to die for their belief that He was the sinless Son of God.
Jesus challenged His enemies, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" (John:8:46, NIV). The record shows that all the enemies of Jesus could do was hurl wild, unsubstantiated allegations: "We were not born of fornication"— implying that He was (verse 41); "He deceives the people" (John:7:12); and "He has a demon and is mad" (10:20). Even at His trial His accusers had to resort to false witnesses because no one could testify to any wrong He had ever done (Matthew:26:59-61).
Even those who were not His disciples agreed that the character of Jesus of Nazareth was without blame. Pilate's verdict was, "I find no fault in Him" (John:19:6). The centurion who oversaw Jesus' execution, having witnessed a mind and spirit unlike any he had ever seen, "glorified God, saying, 'Certainly this was a righteous Man!'" (Luke:23:47).
One of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus added his testimony to the righteousness he witnessed. He rebuked the other condemned man: "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong" (verses 40-41).
Jesus lived a sinless and a virtuous life as confirmed by those who knew and observed Him in everyday as well as difficult circumstances. Even members of His own family who had known Him from childhood—His half brothers who initially didn't believe in Him (John:7:5)—came to accept Him as the perfect, sinless Son of God. His life of character was itself evidence of the truth He claimed about Himself.
Jesus' miraculous life
Jesus' life was marked by miracles from the beginning. He was born of a virgin, He turned water into wine, He walked on water, He quieted the storm. He multiplied bread to feed the multitude, He opened the eyes of the blind, He healed the lame and made lepers whole again. He healed all manner of sicknesses among all kinds of people, cast out demons and even raised the dead to life again.
These miracles were so astounding that the people remarked, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?" (John:7:31).
Jesus pointed to the miracles as proof of who He was. "The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me," He told some questioners (John:10:25). Jesus held up the miracles as credentials that He was the Son of God: "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (verses 37-38).
When the messengers from John the Baptist went to Jesus to ask Him if He were indeed the One who was to come in fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, notice Jesus' reply: "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matthew:11:1-5). Jesus fully expected John to understand that such works would be all the evidence he needed.
The miracles demonstrated clearly who Jesus was, just as He intended. He healed one paralyzed man with the accompanying words, "Son, your sins are forgiven you" (Mark:2:5). He explained to those gathered there that He had healed the man "that you may know that the Son of Man has power [authority] on earth to forgive sins" (verse 10). His critics got the point. They remarked, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (verse 7).
On another occasion He said, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew:12:28). Jesus wanted them to know that they were dealing with a person who was empowered by the Spirit of God, representing the very Kingdom of God.
Pharisees seek a sign
These miraculous healings weren't enough for the skeptics, however. They wanted more. Twice He was asked for a miraculous sign (Matthew:12:38; 16:1). His reply was the same on both occasions. "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah" (Matthew:12:39; 16:4).
The skeptics in Matthew 12 had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus casting out a demon and thereby healing the blind and mute man (verse 22). They justified their disbelief by snarling that Jesus had only been able to perform this miracle by demonic power (verse 24). Jesus showed the ridiculousness of their argument and proceeded to give them a stern warning about denying what they had witnessed with their own eyes.
Unwilling to accept the conclusion to which these wondrous works plainly led, they then asked for another sign. Jesus then drew the conclusion for them. "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater [ One ] than Jonah is here" (verse 41).
Jesus was saying that the miracle they acknowledged had occurred, but chose to explain away, was sufficient to prove to any reasonable person who He was. Their demands for signs were met with a rebuke from Jesus. Then He simply left them (Matthew:16:4). The only sign He gave—"the sign of the prophet Jonah"—would be His final proof that He was indeed the Son of God. What was this proof? He would be in the grave, following His death, only and exactly three days and three nights—for He would rise again at the end of that period.
Beginning and ending with miracles
Miracles have always been a challenge to the skeptic. If a person begins with the denial of anything that defies the laws of nature—the supernatural, in other words—then it's a forgone conclusion that the miracles really didn't happen. Then one can only look for other ways to explain the occurrences recorded in the Bible—or deny that they happened at all.
But the true historical record of Jesus shows that His physical life here on earth began with an intervention of divine will superimposing its power over natural law—that of a virgin conceiving and bearing a Son. The story of the Gospels ends in the same way—with the divine power extended to resurrect Jesus back to life. His entire life was a miracle from beginning to end—and to beginning again. We'll learn more about that in the next chapter.