You’ve probably heard it said that the teachings of Jesus are great, even if people don’t believe him to be God as Christians do. His teachings like: “love your enemy”, “love your neighbour as yourself”, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own” are recognized by almost everyone as being, as the young ones may say: super dope – or maybe it’s super dank now; I don’t know.
Recently, I have been involved in a thing called a GIG (Group Investigating God). For the first study we look at Matthew 6:25-34, a section recording part of Jesus’ most famous teachings. One girl was absolutely stoked, “I didn’t know this was in the bible!” Jesus beat us to the punch regarding mental health, people.
But Jesus said and claimed a lot more than that. One striking thing, of many striking things, is He claimed to forgive sins.
Now, that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. We can forgive each other can’t we? Well, yes. If I up and punched you in the face for no reason, you could forgive me. I wronged you. But imagine, for one moment if you will, that I punched you in the face for no reason and then a stranger came up and forgave me for punching you in the face. That’s odd isn’t it? Nothing wrong was done against that guy. How can he forgive me for that? It would probably even be offensive to you. You were the one punched in the face! Someone who went around doing that would be quite odd, to say the least. C.S. Lewis even said, “Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct.”
Jesus basically does that on multiple occasions. One example is Luke 5:17-26. There it records a story of Jesus healing and forgiving sins. The religious leaders of the day recognized something about that. They said, recorded in verse 21, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Only God can forgive sins like this; and the Jews knew it. Why? Because ultimately every sin, like punching you in the face randomly, is not only a sin against you, but a sin against God. Because I would be wronging God, He has the right to forgive me for that wronging.
And Jesus did and claimed tons of things, besides claiming the authority to forgive sins, that are claims to be God. C.S. Lewis recognized this and said:
Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.
When we comprehend the weight of who Jesus said He was, we are left with only a few choices, my friends. Jesus was a great teacher, yet he claimed to be God. What do we do with that? C.S. Lewis, again, puts it nicely:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either 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 with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. This is the great trichotomy Christ has left us. Those are your choices with this Jesus guy; just a great moral teacher is not available.
Yet, most of us would still agree his teachings are super dope (dank?). Most of us think (correctly), even if you don’t think him God, that he is the single greatest and most influential person to have ever walked this earth. This backwoods rabbi from out of nowhere somehow shaped our moral landscape more than any other teacher in history. “Love your enemies” is profoundly good.
Yet, He claimed to be God. Asinine fatuity, indeed.
That causes us some trouble, friends. But, we can present a nice little argument in the logical form of modus tollens as follows:
Given what Jesus claimed and taught about Himself;
- If Jesus is not God then He cannot be good.
- Jesus is good.
- Therefore, Jesus is God.
Jesus claimed to be God, my friends. That’s why he was killed; he was crucified for blasphemy. That does not allow for him to be just a great moral teacher. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. If you’re willing to call him good, you only have one option. Everyone must wrestle with the Good Teacher.
*All C.S. Lewis quotes from Mere Christianity