We clearly saw that Jesus boldly declared that He was the Saviour of the world and that He was one with God. As we also have discovered earlier that the New Testament is reliable. One cannot just believe that Jesus was just a good man after reading such declarations. There can be only three alternatives:
i. Jesus was a liar and although he did some great deeds he was misleading others for his own benefit.
ii. Jesus was a lunatic as his claims to deity was unfounded.
iii. Jesus is who he says he is. His exemplary life was proof to his claims.
Let us examine these alternatives.
a. Jesus, a liar?
If Jesus knew that he was not divine, he was lying. This would also mean that he was a hypocrite as he encouraged others to be honest, while he was living a colossal lie. It implies as well that he was the devil himself as he was misleading others in believing that he was the Saviour of this world. Furthermore it means he was a fool, as his claim to deity led him to be crucified!
But if this is so, how can one explain Jesus’ most profound moral instruction and honorable example that anyone has ever left? How could an impostor teach such unselfish ethical truths and live such a selfless exemplary life as Jesus did?
Millions of people throughout centuries have strived to follow Jesus’ example. Drunkards have become sober, pimps and hookers have turned away from their lifestyle and have become exemplary citizens, drug addicts have been set free from their addiction… The list could go on and on. How could one explain these transformations if Jesus was a liar? It wouldn’t make sense.
Also why would a liar willingly die a horrible death because of his outrageous claims? Wouldn’t he quickly retract his lies?
There is no way Jesus could have been a liar. The way he lived, the way he cared for others, the way he taught, and even the way he died is enough proof of that.
What other alternatives are there?
b. Jesus, a lunatic?
Is it possible that Jesus could have thought that he was God, but be mistaken? It would be the claim of a lunatic to proclaim to be God in a monotheistic culture and to announce that one’s destiny depends on believing in him! Was Jesus such a person?
Renowned psychologist Dr Gary R. Collins, writer of 45 psychology-related books concluded the following about Jesus:
“Psychologists don’t just look at what a person says. They’ll go much deeper than that. They’ll look at a person’s emotions, because disturbed individuals frequently show inappropriate depression, or they might be vehemently angry, or perhaps they’re plagued with anxiety. But look at Jesus: he never demonstrated inappropriate emotions. For instance, he cried at the death of his friend Lazarus-that’s natural for an emotionally healthy individual…”
“Other deluded people will have misperceptions,” he added. “They think people are watching them or are trying to get them when they’re not. They’re out of contact with reality. They misperceive the actions of other people and accuse them of doing things they have no intention of ever doing. Again, we don’t see this in Jesus. He was obviously in contact with reality. He wasn’t paranoid, although he rightfully understood that there were some very real dangers around him.
“Or people with psychological difficulties may have thinking disorders-they can’t carry on a logical conversation, they’ll jump to faulty conclusions, they’re irrational. We don’t see this in Jesus. He spoke clearly, powerfully, and eloquently. He was brilliant and had absolutely amazing insights into human nature.
“Another sign of mental disturbances is unsuitable behavior, such as dressing oddly or being unable to relate socially to others. Jesus’ behavior was quite in line with what would be expected, and he had deep and abiding relationships with a wide variety of people from different walks of life.”
“He was loving but didn’t let his compassion immobilize him; he didn’t have a bloated ego, even though he was often surrounded by adoring crowds; he maintained balance despite an often demanding lifestyle; he always knew what he was doing and where he was going; he cared deeply about people, including women and children, who weren’t seen as being important back then; he was able to accept people while not merely winking at their sin; he responded to individuals based on where they were at and what they uniquely needed.”
His conclusion: “All in all, I just don’t see signs that Jesus was suffering from any known mental illness,” he concluded, adding with a smile, “He was much healthier than anyone else I know-including me!”
Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998, p. 146, 147.
William Channing a 19th century Unitarian and humanist also concluded that Jesus could not have been a lunatic:
“The charge of an extravagant, self-deluding enthusiasm is the last to be fastened on Jesus. Where can we find the traces of it in His history? Do we detect them in the calm authority of His precepts? in the mild, practical and beneficent spirit of His religion; in the unlabored simplicity of the language with which He unfolds His high powers and the sublime truths of religion; or in the good sense, the knowledge of human nature, which He always discovers in His estimate and treatment of the different classes of men with whom He acted?
Do we discover this enthusiasm in the singular fact, that whilst He claimed power in the future world, and always turned men’s minds to heaven, He never indulged His own imagination, or stimulated that of His disciples, by giving vivid pictures or any minute description of that unseen state?
The truth is, that, remarkable as was the character of Jesus, it was distinguished by nothing more than by calmness and self-possession. This trait pervades His other excellences. How calm was His piety! Point me, if you can, to one vehement, passionate expression of His religious feelings. Does the Lord’s Prayer breathe a feverish enthusiasm? … His benevolence, too, though singularly earnest and deep, was composed and serene. He never lost the possession of Himself in His sympathy with others; was never hurried into the impatient and rash enterprises of an enthusiastic philanthropy; but did good with the tranquility and constancy which mark the providence of God.”
Schaff, Philip. The Person of Christ. New York: American Tract Society, 1913.
No lunatic could have been the source of such a dedicated life as Jesus. His caring attitude, and his deep insights attracted thousands of people towards him. Nowhere in his life can we discover signs of paranoia. He was a well balanced and healthy individual.
What other alternatives could there be?
c. Jesus, our Lord!
If Jesus could not have been a liar and could not have been a lunatic, then there is only one other alternative left: He must be what he proclaimed to be: Our Lord and Saviour! This has been the conclusion of millions of people!
Matt 16:16 “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
John 11:27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
John 20:28 “Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Heb 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
To believe that Jesus was a good person and deny that he was not what he pretended to be is a oxymoron! One cannot be considered good if lying or being a lunatic!
There is but one possible conclusion: he is what he proclaimed to be: He is the Lord and our Saviour. The real question now is what will you do about it?
John 20:31 “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Question 1: Who do you really believe Jesus is?
Question 2: What will you do about it?