Sin is like a snowball rolling down a hill. I admit that’s a bit of an odd comparison, but I think it gets the point across well. Sin is never content to remain small, and if it is allowed the space and time it will gain momentum and eventually morph into a giant ball of evil. The farther down the hill sin rolls, the harder it is to stop, and when it finally reaches the bottom we can’t quite believe what it has transformed itself into.
When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, it seemed innocent enough. Eating fruit is after-all a morally neutral activity. It’s not like they thrust their fists up at heaven and ran off in a rebellious rage to find freer pastures where they could eat from any tree they chose. No, they were deceived by the smooth talking serpent and took a bite from a delicious fruit. A forbidden fruit it is true, but fruit nonetheless.
But sin is sin. And as innocent as eating fruit sounds, betrayal and mistrust lay behind the act. Eve twisted God’s word, Adam was neglectful, and then both did the one thing God had told them not to do. Instead of trusting in the goodness of God, they decided that perhaps God was holding back some good from them. And so sin entered God’s good world.
Sin may have entered the world in a subtle rebellion, but once it got rolling it gained tremendous speed and became a giant, unstoppable monster. When it finally reaches the point in history which Mark describes in chapter 15 of his gospel, sin is as terrible and ugly as it gets.
Jesus, that is, God himself, had been betrayed and handed over to his own people. The wisest and most authoritative of them decided that Jesus deserved to be crucified because he presented a threat to their way of doing things.
Then Jesus was delivered to Gentiles, and because Pilate feared men more than God, Jesus was condemned to death on a cross. Before handing Jesus over to the kill squad, Pilate had the Son of God brutally flogged.
When the soldiers got a hold of Jesus they clothed him in king’s clothes and fashioned a crown for him, mocking Jesus in false adoration. The One who would not bruise a reed, the soldiers struck over the head with a reed. They spit on him. Then they stripped him naked and made him carry his torture implement, the cross, on his bloodied, bare shoulders.
As Jesus hung on the cross, exposed and broken, people strolled by and took turns mocking the Son of God because he seemingly could not save himself. Even the other criminals who hung on crosses to the left and right of Jesus joined in the derision. They took pleasure is seeing Jesus suffer.
That is what sin looks like at its worst. There was nothing innocent or subtle about what happened on that day when Jesus was crucified. It was a boisterous, unmistakable rebellion. Essentially, it was us humans giving God the middle finger and letting Him know what we think about submitting to His King. We were quite happy to see Jesus’ mission fail because it meant we could do whatever we wanted to do.
The incredible thing is that just at the moment when the snowball of sin had reached its most grotesque and terrible heights, when things couldn’t get any worse, the giant ball got busted up. When the ugliness of our sin was at its most revolting point, the beauty of the love of God shone brightest. And it was that love that ultimately delivered us from the monster which sin had made of us.