"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

I.            BACKGROUND

 

Why would the concept of a sinless Jesus be of interest to a Jewish person?  In principle, it should not matter to a Jew, since Jesus is irrelevant to Judaism – he is in the realm of Christianity.  The notion of Jesus being without sin is tied to the claim that Jesus died as a sacrificial offering to atone for the sins of humanity.  According to the laws of sacrifice in the Torah, a sacrificial offering had to be without blemish or defect.  Christian apologists and missionaries make the claim that the sinless Jesus satisfied this requirement, and that his “shed blood” covered the sins of mankind just as the blood of animal sacrifices atoned for the sinners in Biblical times.  This claim is a prominent component in the portfolio of Christian missions to the Jews.

 

This essay addresses the question: Was Jesus Sinless? Since the analysis compares accounts from the New Testament against specific commands in the Torah, it should be noted that the Scripture in force during the lifetime of Jesus, including the time of his death, was the Hebrew Bible.

 

II.            JESUS AND BEING SINLESS

 

For Christianity, the purpose of the Four Gospels is to testify that Jesus is the Christ (the messiah) and, as such, his sacred mission was to be the sacrificial offering that would make atonement for the sins of mankind.  Consequently, each Gospel climaxes with a narrative that recounts the historical events surrounding this atoning sacrifice.  According to Christianity, the central core of the Gospels creates the pivotal theme of the salvation brought by Jesus, mediated by the suffering and death of the sinless messiah.  This concept is perhaps best summarized by the following verse from the New Testament:

 

John 3:16(KJV) – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

The giving here refers to the so-called sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.

 

Christian theology holds that a sinless Jesus was part of the heavenly Father’s plan from the outset, to redeem mankind.  After all, the act of disobedience by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Fall of Man, placed the stain of sin on humanity, one that cannot be removed through a person’s own actions.  Jesus, the perfect sacrificial offering of the future, was born through the impregnation by the Holy Spirit of a virgin, Mary, who remained a virgin throughout the term of her pregnancy.  Mary gave birth to a child that was not blemished by the stain of Original Sin, since he was conceived of G-d and not through the customary act of copulation by two sinful humans.  Jesus allegedly remained without sin throughout his entire life, since he is said to have perfectly kept all the commandments and, therefore, fulfilled the entirety of the Torah’s precepts:

 

Matthew 5:17-19(KJV) – (17) Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  (19) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 

With this passage as a backdrop, several accounts in the Gospel of Matthew are examined to test whether Jesus actually lived up to his proclamation.

 

Going on the premise that the historical Jesus existed, it should not come as a surprise that many statements attributed to him throughout the Four Gospels are consistent with Jewish teachings.  After all, it is likely that Jesus, coming from a family of Pharisees and being exposed to this tradition, held to it and practiced Pharisaic (i.e., Rabbinic) Judaism.  In fact, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus acknowledged the authority of Sages and Rabbinic Judaism of his day:

Matthew 23:1-3(KJV) – (1) Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,  (2) Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:  (3) All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. [See also Mk 10:17-19, Lk 16:16-17, Jn 14:21.]

Although Jesus viewed them as hypocrites, he nevertheless acknowledged that the Biblical authority rests in the hands of the Rabbis who, in his day, were the Pharisees.  The Four Gospels appear to indicate that Jesus instruct his followers to stop obeying the (written and oral) commandments.  While he may have had some issues with various aspects of the Law (Torah), it is understood that Jesus did not advocate doing away with it.  On the other hand, a close look at the Four Gospels reveals conduct and teachings ascribed to Jesus, which are at odds with Jewish Law.

 

III. JESUS AND THE TORAH

 

The Written Torah (Mosaic Law) contains 613 precepts[1] (mitzvot), and no person can possibly comply with the entire set[2].  This is because various commands pertain to different groups of people.  For example, some of the precepts apply only to males (e.g., circumcision), others only to females (e.g., feminine hygiene); some apply only to Aaronic Priests (e.g., allowed marriages), others to those who own land in Israel (e.g., rotating the crops), etc.  Therefore, when a claim is made that someone fulfilled the Mosaic Law in its entirety, such a claim is a lie since it is an impossible task to accomplish.

 

  1. Did Jesus Act in Accordance with Torah?

 

Bearing in mind the fact that anyone who transgresses even a single precept of Torah becomes a sinner, a sample of Torah commands are contrasted against the respective narrative found in the Gospel of Matthew to determine whether the conduct and teachings of Jesus were consistent with what the Torah requires.

 

1. Marriage and Procreation (Having Children)

 

Y      The first of the 613 precepts appears early in the Book of Genesis:

 

Genesis 1:28 – And G-d blessed them [Adam and Eve], and G-d said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that treads upon the earth.”

 

Accordingly, human beings are commanded to marry and have children.

 

U      The New Testament is silent on whether Jesus obeyed this command.  There is no evidence in the New Testament that Jesus ever married and fathered any children.  Christian theology completely rejects this notion.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus did not fulfill the command to marry and procreate.

 

Sidebar Note: Christian apologists and missionaries attempt to neutralize this issue by claiming that celibacy was an optional lifestyle in Biblical days and thereafter.  To support this claim, they cite the example of the prophet Jeremiah as well as some Rabbinic literature.  A detailed analysis of the relevant Rabbinic writings is beyond the scope of this essay.  Though, in summary, it can be said that, when presented in their proper context, they no longer support the claim.

 

Concerning the Biblical example of Jeremiah, the following passage is invoked in support of the claim[3]:

Jeremiah 16:1-4(KJV) – (1) The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying, (2) Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. (3) For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; (4) They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

The phrase “… in this place …” provides the clue for a correct reading of this passage.  This order is tied to a particular geographical location for a specific reason, which is described earlier in the Book of Jeremiah:

 

Jeremiah 11:21-23(KJV) – (21) Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand: (22) Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: (23) And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.

 

Jeremiah, being a native and citizen of Anatot (Jer 1:1), is ordered not to marry in Anatot since the people who live there will be punished for being false prophets.  This is not an absolute prohibition to not marry at all!

 

2. Honor and Respect of Parents

 

Y      According to the Fifth Commandment in the Decalogue, children must honor their parents:

Exodus 20:12 – Honor your father and your mother; in order that your days may be prolonged upon the land which the L-rd, your G-d, gives you. [See also Deut 5:16.]

The reward for keeping this commandment is long life – this is the only Commandment in the Decalogue that mentions such a reward!

 

Y      Not only honoring, but revering one’s parents is required by the Torah:

Leviticus 19:3 – Every man shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths; I am the L-rd, your G-d.

Y      Still another precept in the Torah contains the following admonition:

Exodus 21:17 – And one who curses his father and his mother, shall surely be put to death.

U      The Gospel of Matthew contains the following account:

Matthew 12:46-50(KJV) – (46) While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.  (47) Then one said unto him,Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.  (48) But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?  (49) And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  (50) For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. [See also Lk 2:42-50; Jn 2:3-4.]

Perhaps because Jesus did not honor his parents, he did not enjoy the reward of a long life on earth as promised in the Fifth Commandment!

 

U      This is what Jesus taught concerning the place of one’s parents:

Matthew 10:34-37(KJV) – (34) Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  (35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  (36) And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  (37) He thatloveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [See also Lk 14:26.]

This conduct of Jesus does not reflect that which is required by the Torah.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the commands to honor and respect

parents!

 

3. Burying the Dead

 

Y      The Jewish Law of Burial is based on commands in this passage:

 

Deuteronomy 21:23 –His body shall not remain all night upon the gallows, rather you shall surely bury him on that day, for he who is hanged is accursed by G-d, and you shall not defile your land, which the L-rd your G-d gives you for an inheritance.

 

Burial within 24 hours of death is commanded for an executed criminal.  The Sages argued that, if this is to be done for an executed criminal, it certainly is the proper way to do it for an innocent person.

 

U      The Gospel of Matthew describes the way Jesus tested one of his disciples:

 

Matthew 8:21-22(KJV) – And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. (22) But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. [See also Lk 9:59-60.]

 

Jesus insisted that, rather than properly bury his own father, a person should follow him.  This behavior also falls into the previous category concerning the honoring and respecting of parents.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the Jewish Law of Burial.

 

4. Observance of Passover

 

According to Christian tradition, and supported by the accounts recorded in the Synoptic Gospel (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the Last Supper was the traditional festive Passover eve ritual, the Seder.  When the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper are contrasted against the Torah laws that deal with the celebration of Passover [ (pessah)], it becomes evident that Jesus and his disciples violated them.

 

Y      Jews are obligated to remove all leavened product [ (hametz)] from their possession prior to the Passover:

Exodus 12:15 – Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall clear away leaven from your houses; for whoever eats leavened bread, from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

Y      Unleavened bread [ (matzot)] must be eaten for the duration of Passover:

Exodus 12:18 – In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread; until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.

Y      Jews are prohibited from having leavened product [ (hametz)] in their possession throughout Passover:

 

Exodus 12:19 – For seven days leaven shall not be found in your houses; for whoever eats leaven, that soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel, among the stranger and among the native born of the land.

 

Y      Jews may not eat food that contains leavened product [ (hametz)] during Passover:

 

Exodus 12:20 – You shall eat nothing that has leaven; in all places in which you dwell you shall eat unleavened bread.

 

Y      Jews may not eat leavened product [ (hametz)] during Passover:

 

Exodus 13:3 – And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for with the might of the hand did the L-rd bring you out from this place; and [therefore] no leavened bread shall be eaten.”

 

U      The account recorded in the Gospel of Matthew indicates that, at the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples were eating ordinary bread, thereby violating the precepts listed above:

Matthew 26:26(KJV) – And as they were eating, Jesus took bread [αρτος (artos)], and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. [See also Mk 14:22; Lk 24:30.]

Note the use of αρτος (artos) in the Greek source, which is the Greek word for ordinary leavened bread (or cake).  Christian apologists and missionaries may argue that the authors of the New Testament, in writing their accounts, implied that Jesus and his disciples ate unleavened bread.  However, the Greek word for unleavened bread in the Greek source is αζυμως (azumos; see, e.g., Mt 26:17; Mk 14:1,12; Lk 22:1,7).

 

Y      In addition to the precepts concerning the eating of unleavened bread,  (matzot), there is another precept of interest:

Exodus 12:8 – And they shall eat the meat in that night, roasted over fire, and [with] unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

U      The accounts of the Last Supper, as recorded in the Four Gospels are silent about eating the flesh of the Paschal lamb and the bitter herbs by Jesus and his disciples at any time during the meal.

 

Christian apologists and missionaries argue that Jesus himself served as the Paschal lamb.  This, however, conflicts with the requirements in the Torah[4].

 

Y      The following instructions are spelled out regarding what had to be done with the meat of the Paschal lamb:

 

Exodus 12:9-10 – (9) You shall not eat from it raw, nor boiled in water; but roasted over fire, its head with its legs, and with its inner parts.  (10) And you shall not leave any of it until morning; and that which left over until the morning you shall burn in the fire.

 

U      Jesus was referred to as the Paschal lamb in the New Testament.  However, there is no record this was actually done with him.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the commands that relate to Passover!

 

5. Love and Brotherhood of People

 

a. Attitude toward Gentiles

 

Y      The Torah requires Jews to not wrong a Gentile in speech, and love the Gentile:

Exodus 22:20 – You shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:19 – And you shall love the stranger; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

U      The Gospel of Matthew contains the following account:

Matthew 15:22-27(KJV) – (22) And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.  (23) But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she criethafter us.  (24) But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  (25) Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (26) But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.  (27) And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. [See also Mt 6:7,32, 18:17.]

This Gentile woman came to Jesus for help, and he called her a dog!

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated commands concerning the treatment of

Gentiles!

 

b. Attitude toward Jews

 

Y      There are precepts in the Torah concerning the behavior toward fellow Jews:

Leviticus 19:17-18 – (17) You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely reprove your friend, and you shall not bear sin on his account.  (18) You shall not take revenge on, nor bear any grudge against the people of your nation, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the L-rd.

This teaches to not cherish hatred in one’s heart, to not put another Jew to shame, to rebuke the sinner, to love all other Jews, to not take revenge, and to not carry a grudge.

 

U      Curiously, when asked by someone which the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied:

Matthew 22:37-40(KJV) – (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  (38) This is the first and great commandment.  (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

In other words, he essentially echoes Deuteronomy 6:5 and a portion of Leviticus 19:18.  Did he “walk the talk”?

Matthew 6:2,5(KJV) – (2) Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

(5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 23:13-33(KJV) – (13) But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…  (16) Woe unto you, ye blind guides, …  (17) Ye fools and blind: … (33) Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, …

Hypocrites? Blind guides? Fools and blind? Serpents? Generation of vipers?  Do these terms sound like words of a Jew who may not necessarily agree with a particular ideology, yet tries to adhere to the precepts in Leviticus 19:17-18?  This vicious, violent language sounds more like it is coming from the lips of a virulent anti-Semite.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated commands concerning the treatment of

fellow Jews!

 

  1. Did Jesus Change (Add to, or Take Away from) Torah?

 

The Torah contains prohibitions on adding or taking away from it:

 

Deuteronomy 13:1 – All that I command you, take care to do it; you shall not add to it, and you shall not diminish from it. [See also Deut 4:2.]

 

Did Jesus keep this precept?  Here is what he declares:

 

Matthew 5:17-19(KJV) – (17) Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  (19) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Jesus teaches that Torah laws must be preserved.  Did he “walk the talk”?

 

1. Adultery

 

Y      The Seventh Commandment in the Decalogue in the Torah prohibits adultery, an offense that is punishable by death:

 

Leviticus 20:10 – And a man who commits adultery with [another] man’s wife, [he] who commits adultery with the wife of his friend, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

 

U      Jesus actually admits to adding to the Torah law concerning adultery:

 

Matthew 5:27-28(KJV) – (27) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. [See also Jn 8:3-11[5].]

 

In other words, a man becomes guilty of adultery even if he only thinks about desiring to be with a woman he has seen[6].

 

Y      This is what the Torah says concerning this type of desire:

 

Deuteronomy 21:10-11 – (10) When you go forth to a war against your enemies, and the L-rd your G-d has delivered them into your hands, and you have taken them captive;  (11) And you see among the captives a beautiful woman and desire her, you may take her as your wife;

 

For a man to desire a woman [ (hashaq); e.g., Gen 34:8] is not necessarily sinful.  Quite to the contrary, it can be a prelude to marriage.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the prohibition on changing Torah Law!

 

2. Dietary Laws

 

Y      The Torah specifies which animals may and may not be used for food.  Most of the rules on this are found in Leviticus 11.  This includes both specifications and lists of what isclean and unclean among land animals, marine animals, birds, and other creatures – those that may or may not be consumed as food.

 

U      The Gospel of Matthew contains the following instructions by Jesus immediately after the scribes and Pharisees question him about his disciples not observing the practice of washing hands before a meal:

Matthew 15:10-11,16-20(KJV) – (10) And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:  (11) Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

(16) And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (17) Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? (18) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  (19) For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  (20) These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Although it cannot be denied that some behaviors are worse than others are, the washing of the hands was part of the Oral Law.  To Christians, this passage shows that Jesus is voiding the dietary laws, since he said that nothing people consume could defile them[7].

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the prohibition on changing Torah Law!

 

3. Divorce

 

The existence of the institution of divorce is taken for granted in the Torah:

Leviticus 21:7 – They [the Priests] shall not take a wife who is a harlot, or defiled; nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his G-d.

Numbers 30:10 – But every vow of a widow, and of her who is divorced, with which they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.

Y      When a married couple “falls out of love” with one another, there is a provision in the Torah regarding that which must be done:

 

Deuteronomy 24:1-2 – (1) When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it comes to pass that she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  (2) And when she has departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.

 

U      According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus disapproved of this process:

Matthew 5:31-32KJV) – (31) It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:  (32) But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Matthew 19:9(KJV) – And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marriethher which is put away doth commit adultery. [See also Lk 16:18.]

 

Jesus changed this precept by attaching to it an additional requirement, that adultery is the only permissible grounds for a divorce.

 

This new rule on divorce also adds to the Torah law on adultery.  Jesus says that, unless a spouse commits adultery, if the other spouse divorces and remarries, both the divorcer and the new spouse become adulterers.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the prohibition on changing Torah Law!

 

4. The Sabbath Day

 

Y      The Sabbath Day (yom ha’shabbat), is ordained in the Torah as the weekly day of rest on which no work is permitted:

Exodus 20:8-11 – (8) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  (9) Six days shall you labor, and do all your work; (10) But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the L-rd your G-d; in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; (11) For in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the L-rd blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

The importance of  (Shabbat), is evident from the fact that this same message is repeated a number of times throughout the Torah (see, e.g., Exod 31:13-17, 35:2-3; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:12-14).   (Shabbat) is such an important Holy Day that, while they were in the desert, the Israelites were to collect a double portion of the manna on Friday so as to not have to go out and collect the daily portion on  (Shabbat):

Exodus 16:22-30 – (22) And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man; and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.  (23) And he said to them, This is what the L-rd has said, “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath to the L-rd; bake that which you will bake today, and boil what you will boil today; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.”  (24) And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink, neither was there any worm in it.  (25) And Moses said, “Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath to the L-rd; today you shall not find it in the field.  (26) Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.”  (27) And it came to pass, that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, and they found none.  (28) And the L-rd said to Moses, “How long refuse you to keep my commandments and my laws?  (29) See, because the L-rd has given you the Sabbath, therefore He gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.  (30) So the people rested on the seventh day.

The penalty for violating  (Shabbat) was death by stoning:

Numbers 15:32-36 – (32) And while the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man who gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day.  (33) And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation.  (34) And they put him in custody, because it was not told what should be done to him.  (35)And the L-rd said to Moses, “The man shall be surely put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”  (36) And all the congregation brought him outside the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the L-rd commanded Moses.

An episode is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, which describes how Jesus felt about observing  (Shabbat):

Matthew 12:1-7(KJV) – (1) At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. (2) But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.  (3) But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;  (4) How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?  (5) Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?  (6) But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.  (7) But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. [See also Mk 2:23-26.]

Aside from the factual errors contained in this passage[8], which reflect his lack of knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, it is apparent that Jesus disagreed with the Torah on the rules that pertain to  (Shabbat).  The disciples were obviously not learned enough to know that picking grain on  (Shabbat) was a violation of Torah law.  Instead of heeding the Rabbinic authorities and correcting his disciples’ behavior (as he himself taught should be done [Mt 23:3]), Jesus attempts to justify their actions and challenges the authority of the Rabbis.  By changing the rules concerning  (Shabbat), Jesus condoned the violation of it by his disciples.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus violated the prohibition on changing Torah Law!

 

  1. What about the Oral Torah?

 

The Torah contains instructions concerning issues of interpretation of the Written Law, and specifies this is to be done by the Supreme Court (Sanhedrin):

Deuteronomy 17:8-13 – (8) If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, [or any other case where there are] words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the L-rd, your G-d, chooses. (9) And you shall come to the Levitical Priests and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment. (10) And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-rd will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you. (11) According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left. (12) And the man who acts intentionally, not obeying the Priest who stands there to serve the L-rd, your G-d, or to the judge, that man shall die, and you shall abolish evil from Israel. (13) And all the people shall listen and fear, and they shall no longer act wantonly.

In other words, the Torah instructs the Jewish people to accept the rulings and interpretations of every appropriate judicial body and not rebel against them.

 

Among the cases considered above were examples from both the Written and Oral Torah.  As was demonstrated, by deviating from that which was required, Jesus violated the commands to obey and not rebel against the rulings of the Sanhedrin.

 

IV. ADDITIONAL “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”

 

Was Jesus really without sin? This question can actually be answered using only the New Testament and Christianity’s own doctrines.

 

  1. The “Virgin Birth”

 

According to Christian doctrine, the Virgin Birth was G-d’s plan to bring forth the sinless Jesus.  The episode is described in the Gospel of Matthew:

 

Matthew 1:20-23(KJV) – (20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

 

The last verse in this passage, Matthew 1:23, is purported to be a “quote” of the second part of a verse in the Book of Isaiah in the “Old Testament”:

 

Isaiah 7:14(KJV) – Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

 

A detailed analysis of this claim is presented in another essay[9], where it is shown how this and other Christian renditions are mistranslations of the original Hebrew verse.  Of interest here is the rest of the passage about this child, Immanuel:

 

Isaiah 7:15-16(KJV) – (15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.  (16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

 

Note how Immanuel who, in Christian theology, is the subject of a prophecy fulfilled by the sinless Jesus, would have to reach a certain age before being able to discern good from evil. This creates two serious problems for the scenario:

 

U       How would an entity that is considered part of Christianity’s godhead not know “… to refuse the evil, and choose the good …”?

U       By living any amount of time without knowing right from wrong, anyone, even a child, is liable to commit sinful acts.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus was neither divine nor sinless.

 

B. The Baptism of Jesus

 

According to the New Testament, baptism is a command, not an option (see, e.g., Mt 28:19; Ac 10:28).  Baptism is a deed, an act of “works”, which consists of a full immersion in water. What is the purpose of baptism?

 

U       Belief and baptism are required for salvation. [Mk 16:16]

U       Repentance and baptism are for the remission of sins. [Ac 2:38]

U       Baptism washes away sins. [Ac 22:16]

U       Baptism brings salvation. [1 Pe 3:21]

V       Baptism is a public testimony of faith in Jesus. [Ro 6:3; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27] 

 

This list embodies the ongoing conflict in the New Testament between “works” and “faith” as a path to salvation.  The first four items reflect the position of the apostle James, that “… faith without works is dead …” (Ja 2:26[KJV]).  The last item reflects the view of the apostle Paul, that “… by grace are ye saved through faith; … Not of works lest …” (Eph 2:8-9[KJV]). However, there is a much more serious issue here than just this internal contradiction.

 

The New Testament records the accounts of Jesus coming to be baptized by John the Baptizer (Mt 3:13-15; Mk 1:9; Lk 3:21).  Although in the account in the Gospel of Matthew John questions the need for Jesus to be baptized by him, Jesus tells him to do it because “… thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness …” (Mt 3:15[KJV]).  In other words, Jesus himself wanted to demonstrate how to have sins removed and obtain salvation.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus did not consider himself sinless.

 

III. SUMMARY

 

Was Jesus without sin during his lifetime? The above analysis, based on examples from the Gospel of Matthew alone, demonstrated that Jesus was a sinner indeed. In a broader sense, all four Gospels portray Jesus as someone who could have been found guilty of religious impropriety according to Jewish Law.  Table III-1 shows in summary form the examples used in the discussion.

 

Table III-1 – Summary of Examples of Torah Precepts vs. Teaching of Gospels

 

Subject Torah Precept Gospels’ (Jesus’) View Kept/Violated
Family Life
Ÿ         Marriage & procreation Gen 1:28 Silent Violated
Ÿ         Treatment of parents Exod 19:3, 20:12, 21:17[Deut 5:16] Mt 10:34-37, 12:46-50 

[Lk 2:42-50, 14:26; Jn 2:3-4]

Violated
Ÿ         Burying the dead Deut 21:23 Mt 8:22 [Lk 9:59-60] Violated
The Passover
Ÿ         Leavened/Unleavened Exod 12:15,18,19,20, 13:3 Mt 26:26 

[Mk 14:22; Lk 24:30]

Violated
Ÿ         Paschal lamb Exod 12:8-10 Silent Violated
Love and brotherhood [Declaration: Mt 22:37-40]
Ÿ         Treatment of Gentiles Exod 22:20; Deut 10:19 Mt 15:22-27 Violated
Ÿ         Treatment of Jews Lev 19:17-18 Mt 6:2,5, 23:13-33 Violated
Unchangeable Torah {Deut 13:1 [4:2]} {Declaration: Mt 5:17-19}
Ÿ         Adultery Lev 20:10; Deut 21:10-13 Changed! 

Mt 5:27-28 [Jn 8:3-11]

Violated
Ÿ         Dietary laws Leviticus 11 Changed! 

Mt 15:10-11,16-20

Violated
Ÿ         Divorce Deut 24:1-2 Changed! 

Mt 5:31-32, 19:9 [Lk 16:18]

Violated
Ÿ         Sabbath Exod 20:8-11, 16:22-30; Num 15:32-36 Changed! 

Mt 12:1-7 [Mk 2:23-26]

Violated

 

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was taught by his parents as he was growing up (Lk 2:40-41) and, as a Jew, he was required to observe Jewish Law in accordance with the Torah. Yet, even within the limited scope of the analysis presented herein, it is clear that Jesus did not learn very well what he was taught by his parents, nor did he diligently follow that which is commanded in both the Written and Oral Torah.

 

Sinless Jesus? No way!


Copyright © 2001-2004, Uri Yosef for http://www.MessiahTruth.com.
All rights reserved
 


 

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