This is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Even many of those that would not consider themselves Christians recognize the fact that this ‘man’ existed. There is plenty of non Biblical evidence that he was born, lived in the area, taught many people, had many followers and was killed on the cross. There is not really any legitimate dispute about these facts. The argument comes when we refer to His miracles (which even some non Biblical texts support), but more importantly to the issue of His resurrection. Non believers state this part of the story is completely made up. The topic of that discussion will be for another post. Today, I want to simply ask the question… Who was Jesus?
C. S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” refers to the three possible answers to that question. Jesus was either a Lord, a lunatic or a liar. To those that dismiss absolutely everything Jesus did or said, this doesn’t really matter. But many people, especially of other religions, say that Jesus was a great teacher that shared great teachings on how to live and love each other. So to those of you who respect the words he shared, you have to answer the question, was he the Lord, a lunatic or simply a liar? Let’s look at them in reverse.
If the man of Jesus was simply a liar, then he succeeded in carrying out the largest scam in history. He was so convincing of his lie that his followers believed every word, even to the point of painful deaths for almost every one of them. However, if he was simply lying about the whole thing, what gain would there be to continue that lie to the point of death, even death on the cross. Why would “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” be one of the last things he said just before he died?
Perhaps instead of being a liar, he was simply crazy. He actually believed the things he shared and stated and was so convincing of these facts that others believed him as well. It’s possible for a person to be so charismatic that they convince people to go to their death in support. We’ve seen this many times in our own lifetime. People have claimed to be a god or perhaps even the God, and have succeeded in mass suicides. This is awful but it has happened. However, in EVERY one of these cases, their ’cause’ dies with them. Their followers all die and that’s the end of the story. But when Jesus died, his followers spent 40 days in shock. Then then claim that he reappeared to them. It’s possible that another second in command simply continued the story and some how convinced people he reappeared when he in fact didn’t. This is a stretch since so many people claimed to have actually seen him.
Then there’s the fact of Saul. He was vigorously pursuing the followers of Jesus (well after His death) and putting them to death. Yet somehow, this man that is so adamant about killing Jesus’ followers, claims to have had a personal interaction with Jesus. He was so committed to this experience that he faced persecution, stoning and eventual death all the while claiming to have met Jesus (after his death). This certainly doesn’t match up to a man simply being crazy and a lunatic.
Those that say they respect his teaching and discount him as a liar or lunatic, have to deal with the words He said. In John 10, Jesus spends quite some time stating that He and the Father are the same. At the threat of a stoning death on the spot, Jesus said “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) This was not saying that they are of one accord or on the same page or part of the same vision. Jesus said several times that He was actually Lord. So when a man makes claims like this, you either have to discount the claim or accept it. We’ve just discussed that simply discounting his as a liar doesn’t fit the facts. Considering him a lunatic is a little more plausible but also doesn’t account for his cause continuing after His death and with people who had previously opposed Him.
Since you can’t simply discount Jesus as a liar or a lunatic. Then you must accept the value and truth of the things He said. And when you accept that this man on earth was in fact God in human form, Emanuel… then it’s time to accept Him as Lord, accept the fact He died for your sins and became your savior (even before you believed). As a result of His death, your eternal punishment is no more.
When you see that little baby in the manger scenes this year, don’t just think of the wonderful birth story… think about who He really was and WHY He actually came down to be Emanuel (God with us) in the first place.