Jesus Christ: Madman or Messiah?

Regardless of what you choose to believe, you cannot possibly say that Christ was simply a moral teacher. CS Lewis articulates this point better than I ever could:

“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 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 with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

To give a practical example of the quote above, consider some of these claims:

“Jesus said to them ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” –John 8:56-59

“… Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” –Mark 14:62

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” –Mark 8:31

There are men in psychiatric wards who claim to be god, and make predictions of their resurrection. No one would give a second thought to a person’s claim to deity unless their predictions came true, and were indeed, miraculous.. This is why Christianity hinges on the evidence of the resurrection. If the evidence is lacking, the Apostle Paul even said that Christians of all people should be pitied.

No moral teacher could make the kind of claims Christ made and keep his integrity unless the claims were true and his predictions actually happened. We associate people claiming to be god to liars and lunatics for the simple reason that they fail to back up these boisterous statements. Therefore we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking we can have a Jesus who was simply “a good man” or “a wonderful teacher” but was never raised from the dead. He would be a liar. It is here that I would agree with Christopher Hitchens when he says, “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” If Christ’s claims to be God was false, then his message should be disregarded. Remember that his purpose was not to instill a higher morality into his followers and the rest of the world. We don’t see him picketing homosexual events, condemning alcohol or boycotting Disney. Morality was not the issue. The issue is whether Christ is the way, truth, and life. Therefore we must choose based on the evidence of his claims: madman or messiah?

“Christ did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live.” –Ravi Zacharias


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