What, then, is the teaching of Jesus concerning sin? His tone is at once severe and hopeful. Sometimes His words are words that shake our hearts with fear; sometimes they surprise us with their overflowing tenderness and pity. But however He may deal with the sinner, we are always made to feel that to Jesus sin is a serious thing, a problem not to be slurred over and made light of, but to be faced, and met, and grappled with. Christ’s sense of the gravity of sin comes out in many ways.
(1) It is involved in His doctrine of man. He who made so much of man could not make light of man’s sin. It is because man is so great that his sin is so grave. No one can understand the New Testament doctrine of sin who does not read it in the light of the New Testament doctrine of man. When we think of man as Christ thought of him, when we see in him the possibilities which Christ saw, the Scripture language concerning sin becomes intelligible enough; until then it may easily seem exaggerated and unreal. It is the height for which man was made and meant which measures the fall which is involved in his sin.
(2) Call to mind the language in which Christ set forth the effects of sin. He spoke of men as blind, as sick, as dead; He said they were as sheep gone astray, as sons that are lost, as men in debt which they can never pay, in bondage from which they can never free themselves. The very accumulation of metaphors bears witness to Christ’s sense of the havoc wrought by sin. Nor are they metaphors merely; they are His reading of the facts of life as it lay before Him. Let me refer briefly to two of them, (a) Christ spoke of men as in bondage through their sin. “If,” He said once, “ye abide in My word ... ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And straightway jealous Jewish ears caught at that word “free.” “Free?” they cried, “Free? we be Abraham’s seed, and have never yet been in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free?” Yet even as they lift their hands in protest Christ hears the clink of their fetters: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, every one that committeth sin is the bond-servant—the slave—of sin.”