Thursday, February 10, 2011

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.

In a little (but potentially life changing) book titled "More Than a Carpenter," authors Josh and Sean Mcdowell present this truth:

"Many people want to regard Jesus as not God but a good, moral man or an exceptionally wise prophet who spoke many truths.  Scholars often pass off that conclusion as the only acceptable one that people can reach by intellectual process.  Many people simply nod their heads in agreement and never trouble themselves to see the fallacy of such reasoning.  Jesus claimed to be God, and to him it was of fundamental importance that men and women believed him to be who he was.  Either we believe him or we don't."

Pause.  [More to come from that passage in a minute...] But, today, when I was reading John 8, this book I had read a year ago came to mind because of Jesus' emphasis on belief.  In the 8th chapter of John, Jesus and the pharisees are going back and forth.  Bottom line: Jesus tells them he's God and they think he's nuts.  Jesus claims "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."  The pharisees challenge him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid."  Jesus answers "Even if I testive on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going... but I am not alone... I am one who testifies for myself; the other witness is the Father, who sent me."  These excerpts are from John 8:12-18.  The conversation continues and escalates.  The pharisees argue "The only Father we have is God himself."  Jesus replies "If God were your Father truly, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here...why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and youw atn to carry out your father's desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning... there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is the father of lies.  You do not believe me....He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."  The Jews then answer "Aren't we right in saying you are demon-possessed?"  (excerpts from John 8:41-48)

Ok.  So, clearly this is not a wishy-washy-you-think-what-you-want-and-I'll-think-what-I-want.  The Jews final response that Jesus must be demon-possessed, though clearly a false conclusion, makes more sense than thinking that He is a good, moral teacher, but not who he said he was.

In More Than a Carpenter, the authors go on to further explain this issue.

"Jesus didn't leave us any wiggle room for in-between watered down alternatives.  [Either we believe him or we don't.]  One who claimed what Jesus claimed about himself [see the rest of John 8] couldn't be a moral man or a prophet.  That option is'nt open to us, and Jesus never intended it to be."

C.S. Lewis (a Cambridge professor and former agnostic) also understood this issue clearly:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Jesus]. '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 either be a lunatic on the 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 up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to."

Bottom line?  Jesus claimed to be God.  He expects a response - do you believe it or not?  He is either true or false.  He asks his disciples (most famously Peter and Martha) "Who do you say I am?"

Either our response will be that of Peter and Martha, "You are the Christ, the Son of God," or our response will be that of the pharisees, "This man is demon-possessed and a liar."

As the authors of More Than a Carpenter write, "liar, lunatic, or Lord?"

So, who is Jesus to you?