Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019
 
 

Six Big Questions - # 3 - What if Jesus was who he said he was?    (4/24/2012 )

There is no question about it: Jesus made some outrageous claims about himself, taking people’s breath away with his audacity.

He once claimed that, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me”. And, even more challenging: “I and the Father are one”.

These claims, if untrue, would mean Jesus must have been delusional, or the world’s biggest fraud.

The author C S Lewis said we are faced with a ‘trilemma’ – a question with only three possible answers: that Jesus was either lunatic, liar or lord (or ‘mad, bad or God’).

Lunatic…?

Theologians, psychologists, sceptics and ordinary people have studied the life and teaching of Jesus for 20 centuries. His teachings about life and our relationships with others reveal his great wisdom and understanding of who we are as humans. The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is considered a masterpiece; its core message, summarised as ‘treat others as you want them to treat you’ has entered world culture as a model of relationships (even if it is not followed often enough!).

Jesus himself showed such self-giving love that he even went so far as to give his life for others—including you and me. And all of the world’s major religions hold him in high regard as one of the wisest teachers ever known.

So, no—no-one can realistically suggest that Jesus was crazy.

Liar…?

Could it be that Jesus’ whole ministry was a scam—a deliberate intent to mislead people into following him for reasons of self-importance? Other self-proclaimed teachers had come and gone by the time of Jesus. Certainly, the religious leaders of the time thought Jesus fell into this category at first.

However, that thought started to change when they saw the healings that he performed, and came to a head when he publicly called his friend Lazarus back out of the tomb where he had been lying dead for several days.

But the best evidence of the truth of Jesus’ claims was presented three days after he died, when (as he had predicted beforehand, and matching ancient scriptures about the coming saviour) he came back from the dead and was then seen on many occasions over a period of 6 weeks.

So it’s unlikely that Jesus was a liar; certainly, no one has even proven that anything Jesus ever said or did was deceitful (not even people who would love the chance to prove that!).

Lord...?

  • Jesus claimed that he was God in the flesh (and remember, nothing else he said was a lie)
  • Jesus could make the laws of nature obey his commands (healing disfiguring illnesses, raising people from the dead, changing water into wine, etc)
  • Jesus destroyed death not just by coming back from the dead temporarily, like Lazarus (who died a normal death years later), but remaining alive and ascending into heaven before the eyes of humans.

Summary

We can’t just dismiss Jesus as a madman or a charlatan, not even just a great teacher. His own life, his death and his resurrection don’t leave that option open to us. He didn’t intend it to: he left only one realistic option—that he is God.

And if Jesus really is the way, the truth and the life, and the one who shows us the way to the Father, what can our response be, except to follow him with our whole hearts?

This is one of Six Big Questions.

Read more about ‘What if Jesus was who he said he was?’ in Six Big Questions, a 24-page A5 booklet which encourages you to ask hard questions about the Christian faith—and which offers some answers. You can download it instantly, or get it by post, for just £3.95.

Next week, we’ll consider “How does Jesus make sense of life?’





Pray: Lord, I am confronted with a decision: who was Jesus, and shoud I believe that he was who he said he was? If he was, then I have no choice but to accept him as my God. Please help me to work through this. Amen.

Think about: Who do you think Jesus was and is: a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord? There are really no other options, so which one is the truth?

Challenge: Read more about the 'mad, bad or God' trilemma at the website of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, where a chemical engineer wrestles with the question...

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