“And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)
With Advent, we think about the coming of Jesus and prepare our hearts to receive Him. Different Christian traditions have different customs regarding advent, but the basic idea of thinking of the meaning and importance of Jesus’ arrival into this world is common to all.
So, we ask: “Why did Jesus come?” If you can answer that question then you have answered much about who He is and what He wants to do in our lives. There is no one single reason why Jesus came; He came to accomplish many things. But here John defined the mission of Jesus Christ at its most basic root: “to take away our sins.” The angel Gabriel promised Joseph regarding the ministry of Jesus: “you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin” (Luke 1:21). Knowing that this is what Jesus came to do, it is fair to ask: How does Jesus do this? How does Jesus take away our sins?
Jesus takes away our sin in the sense of removing the penalty of our sin. This is immediately accomplished when one comes by faith to Jesus. The guilt and punishment that our sin deserved was judged in Jesus instead of in us.
Jesus takes away our sin in the sense of removing the power of sin. This is an ongoing work in the lives of those who walk after Jesus. As we walk closer to Him, we find sin having less and less power over us.
Jesus takes away our sin in the sense of removing the presence of sin. This is a work that will be completed when we pass into eternity and are glorified with Jesus.
Notice whose job it is to take away our sins: “He was manifested to take away our sins.” This is the work of Jesus in our lives; it is a work we must respond to, but it is His work in us.
We cannot take away the penalty of our own sin. It is impossible to pay the price our selves. We must instead receive the work of Jesus in taking away our sin.
We cannot take away the power of sin in our lives. This is His work in us, and we respond to that work. Someone who comes to Jesus does not have to clean himself up first, but they must be willing to have Him take away their sin.
We cannot take away the presence of sin in our lives. This is His work in us, ultimately accomplished when we will be glorified with Him.
As we remember this week of advent, thank Jesus for coming into the world – and coming to take away our sin.