In yesterday evening’s post, I suggested that it may be much more helpful to think of sin as a kind of sickness than simply as wrongdoing.
One of the issues I touched on is that when you suggest that sin is a form of sickness, some people get very nervous because they feel that this diminishes personal responsibility for sin. I suppose the logic goes that if sickness is a sin, then just as you can’t blame a child (or anyone else) for catching a sickness to which she is exposed, neither can you blame a sinner for “catching” the disease of sin.
I’d like us to think about this in light of some words that Jesus famously spoke as he went to the cross. Consider the following passage:
And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said,“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Jesus utters these words as his executioners are going about their grisly business. Since everything Jesus says and does reveals the Father’s heart (“I only do what I see the Father doing“), these words clearly demonstrate that even amid the horror of the murder of Jesus, God’s heart is to forgive his murderers. That alone should be enough to stop us in our tracks.
But what I’d like to focus on is the next part of what Jesus says: “they do not know what they do”. I used to think what Jesus meant by this was that if the Roman soldiers had known who they were dealing with – the Son of God – they would not have proceeded to kill him. I now think that’s a nice theory but one that doesn’t really hold water.