CNN’s Don Lemon yesterday interviewed New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo. During the conversation on racism, statues, and slavery, Mr Lemon came out with this rather bold assertion about Jesus,
“But here’s the thing, Jesus Christ, if you believe — if that’s what you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly, was not perfect when he was here on this Earth.”
Mr Lemon was using Jesus as an example of why it’s wrong to ‘deify’ America’s founders. He continued,
“So why are we deifying the fathers of this country, many of whom owned slaves, and in the Constitution – the original one – they didn’t want — they put slavery in there, that slavery should be abolished because it was the way the king wanted.”
In other words, if Jesus wasn’t perfect why should Americans regard their founding fathers so highly? Leaving aside the strained parallel, I’d like to ask Don Lemon this straight forward question, can you show us how Jesus was ‘not perfect when he was here on earth’? Name one thing Jesus ever said or did that was faulty or was sinful?
I am certainly interested to hear how Mr Lemon will substantiate his allegation.
When I define Jesus through my own fallible lens, I might assume that Jesus made mistakes. After all, if Jesus is just like me he must have made a bucket full or errors and transgressions. But here lies the problem. Jesus is simultaneously like us and he is unlike us.
Jesus is like us in that he is fully human. He ate, slept, and went to the toilet, he worked and knew tiredness, he expressed happiness and humour, and he experienced great suffering. He died.
Jesus is unlike us in two important ways.
First of all, Jesus is also fully God. His miracles, words, compassion, and forgiveness served to reveal his identity, power, and purpose as God the Son.
He is described in Colossians as the One who created all things and who has Divine power and authority to uphold the universe,
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17)
Mr Lemon may not believe or accept the biblical testimony, which might explain his bizarre comment. However, all the different strains of evidence, come to the same conclusion:
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
“while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)
Second, as a human Jesus is what we are not, without sin. He is the sinless one who always did what was right and good, and always said what was true and loving, and always acted in purity and affection.
The testimony of Jesus friends and enemies alike is that he never did any wrong. At his trial, the judge announced Jesus to be innocent and yet sentenced him to death in order to appease the mob and the social censures of the day.
The testimony of the Scriptures insist upon Jesus’ moral and spiritual perfection,
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
This faultless living doesn’t suggest he was an artificial person. The book of Hebrews testifies to something far more necessary and extraordinary,
“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:10-18)
It is the fact that Jesus experienced the traumas of this world, and was tempted but resisted, that he can empathise with us. Here is a God with understanding. That he remained faithful to his character and purpose also proves Jesus was qualified to serve as Saviour. Jesus not only sympathises but he saves.
Don Lemon did highlight a stark and odious sin that was present among some of America’s Founding Fathers; slavery. The reality is, every human institution is going to have its limitations and frailties, even the very best. Governments, political systems, and every of social entity can do good and serve the betterment of communities, but they are not meant to reign as our saviour. Only one who is perfect can take on that role. Only one demonstrated the necessary qualities, and only one was able and willing to lay down his life on the cross, to take on the sins of the world.
Thank God Jesus was perfect, when he was on the earth. Thank God he remains perfect, the one true and sufficient Saviour that our hurting world needs.