Speaking about Christ the first reading says that he has “been tested in every way, but without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) We might see a tie there with Romans, 6:10, with Matthew 4:1, and with Luke 22:42-44.
Where Hebrews 4:15 says, “He was been tested in ever way” other Bibles have it: “He was tempted in every way.” That would be telling us he had to struggle against all the temptations to pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. Though he never gave in, he had to fight off every evil inclination.
I mentioned that we might tie this in with Roman’s 6:10. There St. Paul said, “His death was a death to sin once and for all.”
Now “death to sin” is not a phrase we have ever used, but since Jesus saved us by his death, and since one of our Christmas carols says, “He came for to die” what the Bible says about his death must be meaningful.
We could push the question aside, saying “he saved us by his death on the cross,” but death on the cross by itself had no great value. After all, on Good Friday two other men were crucified with Jesus, and their deaths didn’t accomplish anything for anybody.
For understanding Paul’s phrase “his death was a death to sin” it would help if you ever had to overcome a strong bad habit like being hooked on smoking. When I went to break my thirty-year, a pack-a-day habit I got a month off, and I spent the long August days walking the beach, throwing sand out into the waves, telling my habit, “No, no, no!” Eventually those efforts killed my desires. I was dead to them. So, I see that Paul was telling us that Jesus had so persistently denied every desire to sin that he killed them. He was dead to sin.
I mentioned Matthew’s Gospel, 4:1. It tells us that after beginning his great mission that he kicked off with his baptism in the Jordan, “Jesus was Led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted.” The forty days were the metaphorical counterpart of a lifetime. Jesus saved us by a lifetime of fighting off ever inclination to selfishness.
In Luke, 22: 42-44 we read how Jesus, sweating blood, gave sin its final blow when he said, “Father, not my will, but thine be done.”