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Who Jesus Is Not



Jesus was not simply a good moral teacher.  
How, in the name of logic, common sense, and experience, could an impostor -- that is a deceitful, selfish, depraved man -- have invented and consistently maintained from the beginning to end, the purest and noblest character known in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality? How could He have conceived and successfully carried out a plan of unparalleled beneficence, moral magnitude, and sublimity, and sacrificed His own life for it, in the face of the strongest prejudices of His people and age? (Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ. New York: American Tract Society, 1913, 94-95) 

C.S. Lewis, one-time atheist and author of The Chronicles of Narnia, put the dilemma this way: A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said [about Himself] would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (Mere Christianity)

Jesus would have to have been lying or insane (not the qualities of a good moral teacher) to call Himself the Son of God and the Savior of mankind if it weren't true.

Therefore, to separate what is comfortable about Jesus - His kindness, His message of unconditional love, His healing of the sick - from that which is less comfortable (He was born of a virgin, He claimed to be God, He rose from the dead) isn't really possible. 

There are four options open to a person dealing with Jesus. You may consider Him: a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God.

Jesus was/is not a political deliverer. This is one reason some Jews of Jesus' time could not believe He was their Savior - He didn't deliver them from the oppression of their Roman occupiers. He never actually intended to. The deliverance Christ offered and still offers today is of a spiritual nature, reconciling mankind to God (Matthew 11:27). The peace this Messiah brings is internal. His hope is for each human to be restored to a relationship with God, which sin has broken.

Originally published April 07, 2005.

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