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The Über Curve Breaker

test_takerUnless you were him, you probably hated him at test time.

The one who scored the highest. Who set the standard out of reach for everyone else. Who made your grade stay low instead of being scaled up after a hard test.

So when R.C. Sproul pointed out that Jesus was a curve breaker, I got it.

No wonder the Pharisees and Sadducees hated him. In a side by side comparison, they failed miserably.

If God were to grade on a curve, the last man you want taking the same test as you is his genius boy.

Unless...unless...when he takes the test, he trades grades with you. You get his perfect score. And he takes your F.

That’s radical. And it can change the way you look at Jesus. If you think you have to compete with him, you won’t like him. But if you realize he’s earning bonus points to give them all to you, you’ll love him.

Sproul continued on in chapter 4 in The Holiness of God to say that sometimes Christians get the same reaction that Jesus got: 

No one sees Him or speaks audibly with Him in the flesh today. Yet the threatening power of His holiness is still  felt. Sometimes it is transferred to His people. As the Jews at the foot of Mount Sinai fled in terror from the dazzling face of Moses, so people today get uncomfortable in the mere presence of Christians.

He even goes so far to say that:

Holiness provokes hatred. The greater the holiness, the greater the human hostility toward it. It seems insane. No man was ever more loving than Jesus Christ.

But if it’s true that “sinful people are not  comfortable in the presence of the holy,” then we all should be uncomfortable.

Except...except...for that exchange: my sin for his holiness. And after he paid the price for my sin by taking on the wrath of God, he got his holiness back. So all is well.

I don’t have to be afraid of this curve-breaker.
I can cheer him on instead


* * *

Previous chapters
More on Chapter 4 at Challies
Next: Chapter 5, The Insanity of Luther


Becky said...

Lisa, I love reading along with you! You point to so many things that I miss... thank you!
Your closing paragraph says so much, I am thinking about your words...

Have a most blessed day!

Melissa said...

I haven't quite finished this chapter yet, but it's some good stuff.

I particularly liked how Sproul brought out Peter's reaction after seeing the nets full of fish. That would be me!

Carrie said...

I like the points you make here. Going off to think more about that...

Trisha said...

Great example, Lisa! I read Holiness earlier this year, and it's great reading through others' thoughts as y'all read the book.

ed cyzewski said...

This is a really creative and helpful way of considering the incarnation and driving home the point that God truly is on our side. One of the things I am often reminded of when I pray is that God is passionate for his people. Thanks for yet another example of this!

Mrs. David Hankins said...


One of the aspects of this chapter that I struggled with was this notion that the Pharisees wanted to destroy Christ because they were afraid of being exposed as the hypocrites that they were (pg. 88-89). I struggle with that because I'm not really sure that the Pharisees actually saw Christ's holiness. There are many references to them being blind (Matthew 15 & 23; Luke 6). I know that they saw Christ's holiness in a general way, but I'm not sure they understood it enough to fear it.

However, I really appreciate your comments about his taking the test for us and the exchange of our sin for his holiness. This should really destroy any temptations to a competitive spirit with other believers as well.

Liz said...

This was a good chapter for me. I never thought about how the Pharisees and Sadducees would hate Christ because of His holiness. That makes perfect sense now that Sproul points it out.

I also loved the story about the golfer paired up with Billy Graham. Billy didn't say a word about the Lord, but the man felt condemned just being with him.

Mike Barlotta said...


I like how you continued to develop the curve breaker analogy and ended with the wonderful truth that our test papers are traded.

Mrs David Hankins,

interesting point about the Pharisee and whether they saw Jesus as Holy. There blindness may have been related to their need for real Holiness - something they did not have but thought they did.


Lisa notes... said...

I’ve been thinking about Mrs. Hankins’ question, too. Did the Pharisees actually see Christ’s holiness? I think they definitely saw his power, but they didn’t attribute its source from God. So were they fearing his holiness per se? Not sure we can say with certainty either way. They definitely feared him for many other reasons, if not that one exactly...

Kara said...

I really loved the curve-breaker analogy! And I've seen first-hand situations like the Billy Graham story. Interesting how sometimes we don't even have to say a word.


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