“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.”
What is Jesus talking about? Scripture clearly states that all men have sinned (Romans 3:23) and there is none that do good (Psalm 14:3). All have sinned, regardless of whether or not Jesus came. In fact, He came because people had sinned, right?
As I meditated on this verse and asked the Lord about it, He brought back an experience I had multiple times. Years ago I took piano lessons. Piano lessons were held weekly and I usually went with confidence, assured of my skills and advanced abilities. I was an amazing pianist in my own eyes. If I was running late for my lesson, I was usually greeted by my teacher playing a challenging classical piece just for fun. Walking in while she was playing made me realize how much further I had to go in my piano career.
In a similar way, the Jews—and their religious leaders in particular—thought they were doing well. Luke 18:11–12 give an idea of what the Pharisees thought about themselves: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” They were confident that they were pleasing the Lord. However, Jesus came and gave them a different standard. By His life and words, Jesus raised the bar and exposed the hypocrisy and sin in Israel’s religious leaders.
Jesus’ life did not just expose the sin of Israel’s “most righteous”. As I compare my life to Christ’s, I realize that I do not measure up. I do not love the unlovely like Christ did. I do not put others before myself. I cannot say with Jesus, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just: because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). I cannot hide my own sin.
The story of my life, however, does not end there. No, I am not an amazing pianist. I do know the power of Christ’s life in me, and that is worth far more to me than being an amazing pianist! In Christ, I do not need a cloak for my sin. In Christ, I have been washed clean. In Christ, I have the power to overcome temptation. In Christ, I am a new creation!