To purchase the entire Summit Lecture Series, Vol. 1 on DVD, go to: summit.org
What do the primary source documents pertaining to the life of Jesus Christ tell us about Him?
First off, Jesus made explicit claims to be God.
“I and the Father are one.”
Now, when we look at the full context of this verse, we see that upon hearing this, the religious leaders who were there picked up rocks and prepared to stone Jesus for the very reason that He – a man – was claiming to be God.
We also see in John 1:1-3 that Jesus was God and was with god from the very beginning, even taking part in the creation process of the universe.
So, in consideration of all this, we must now determine what is the truth.
First off, when it comes to Jesus, we have very limited options. In regards to His claim to be God, He was either right or wrong.
Now, for argument’s sake, if He was wrong in His claim to be God, He either knew it or He didn’t know it. And if He was wrong but didn’t know it, then He was crazy (mad); but if He was wrong and was aware of it, He was a liar (bad).
And finally, if He was right in His claim, then He was (and is), in fact, God.
Therefore, we need to look again at our primary source documents and determine which of these three options is the truth: was He mad, bad, or God?
If we ask the question, “Was He mad?” and consider His teachings, we see that not only did He teach some of the best moral lessons that the world has ever heard, but if you follow them, his teachings actually lead to good mental health. Therefore, it’s highly implausible that Jesus was crazy.Next, let’s determine if Jesus was a liar – a malicious manipulator out to gain power. By examining His life, we can easily see that His lifestyle, His teachings and His motives were purely ethical and selfless. And then, when we consider His death, we see that He was executed in horrible fashion. It just isn’t logical that anyone would endure this for the sake of lies.
So once we’ve eliminated the two options of Jesus being either crazy or malicious, then maybe it’s reasonable to think that He actually is God.
To sum up, few have put it more simply or more effectively than C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity:
“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 or else He would be the Devil in 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 on 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 patronizing nonsense about His being a great teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Maybe, just maybe, Jesus was – and is – who He claims to be.