“Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.” (v.15) That’s not what we expect. What we expect is more like, “Christ Jesus came into this world to catch and condemn sinners.” That’s more like what we expect. “Jesus came into this world to seek-out and destroy sinners.” That’s what we deserve, destruction at the hands of God. “Christ Jesus came into this world to punish sinners.” That’s what we think, and often how we feel. “Jesus Christ came into this world to teach sinners how no longer to be sinners.” “Christ Jesus came into this world to seek and to save sinners.” That’s what our text from 1st Timothy tells us this morning. This leaves us with only 1 thing to do: be a sinner. That is not a particularly difficult task for us to accomplish. Sinning is a natural expression of our inner self, our sinful human nature.
Paul, in his letter to Timothy, runs through the commandments showing what sinners look like. They are unholy and profane, fathers and mother who strike their children, murderers, the sexually immoral, homosexuals, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and so forth. It may be that you haven’t committed any of these sins. But your heart and your mind are constantly bent toward sin. That’s true for all of us!
Remember how Jesus explained the commandments? (Mat. 5:22) To be angry at someone is to commit murder. (Mat. 5:28) To look with lust is to commit adultery. (Mark 12:30-31) “Love the Lord your God with your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Who among us can check these off their list” Let’s see – do the dishes, check. Take out the trash, check. Clean the bathroom, check. Love and serve the Lord with every ounce of my being? I’m afraid not – no check here.
And that means that you’re a sinner. But that’s not a bad thing for one reason and one reason only – Christ Jesus came to rescue and save sinners. We – you and I – are the sinners Jesus came to save. Matthew 9:12 tells us, “Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous to repentance, He came to call upon sinners to repent and be saved. Whom among us is so righteous that they don’t need Jesus? 1st John chapter 1 tells us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This is where we come to the heart of the matter. The Pharisees in our text are just as sinful as anyone, but they will not admit their sinfulness. They actually believe that they are so righteous, so perfect in every way, that they have no need for a Savior – they have no use for Jesus. We are sinners, you and I, but at least we’re willing to admit and confess our sins, and be assured that through Jesus, our sins are forgiven. Every time we admit our sinfulness and confess our sins, we put to death our sinful nature and allow our new baptized nature to come forth and thrive. Our sinful nature clings to the illusion that we are inherently good and righteous.
There are, of course, some people, like the Pharisees, who are simply unable to acknowledge that they have sinned or done anything wrong. For these people, things are never their fault. It’s always someone else’s fault. We’ve all known some one like that at one time or another in our lives. They can be difficult to deal with, to say the least.
We – you and I – we’re sinners. That is our spiritual diagnosis – sinful through and through. Paul tells us, “The law is not for the just and the righteous, but for the lawless, the disobedient, the ungodly, and the unrighteous.” We have broken God’s law and stand deserving of His wrath and judgment. But this is where God’s grace and love shine the brightest. When we acknowledge our sinfulness, and that we deserve nothing but God’s wrath and judgment, that’s when the gospel, the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son Jesus Christ reveals its true power. “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.”
Jesus stood in our place and took the wrath and judgment of God that we deserve. Jesus suffered the agony of crucifixion, for you. His blood flowed from His wounds, for you. He allowed death to embrace Him, for you. And then He rose from death and the grave, for you. He then ascended back to His throne in heaven, for you. Jesus now pleads favorably about you to His Father, for you.
We – you and I – are sinners according to God’s law. But we have taken ownership of our sins and freely and openly confessed them.
Therefore, God deals with us and our sins, not according to the law, but according to the gospel. “I forgive you all of your sin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Those are some of the sweetest words you and I will ever hear in this life. Your sins can’t stand in your way. Even death cannot stand in your way. Nothing can ever come between you and God. Your Savior is Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God Himself. He is the One who came to save sinners. He is the One who came to save you! Thanks be to God! Amen.