“Jesus Christ is God,” an astonishing claim for a person embedded in a monotheistic religion to even write about or suggest, much less to actually claim such a thing. Jesus is not just part of God or sent by God or related to God. Jesus is God. Jesus shows up one day, does all these miraculous things, makes these remarkable claims, like existing before Abraham or “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father,” and then has the audacity to forgive sins. A Jewish person would never do this in his right mind. A Hindu might claim to be god. A pantheist might claim to be god. For a Jew to claim to be God, was outrageous, suggests C. S. Lewis.
Several years ago, Josh McDowell articulated some thoughts presented by C.S. Lewis in this regard. Jesus is either liar, lunatic, or Lord. We could say He was a liar but He came out of the grave like He said He would. Liar doesn’t fit the facts. He wouldn’t have laid down his life if he wasn’t telling the truth. If his claims were false and he knew they were false, then he was a liar. We could say that He was a lunatic, but all the other things He said were true. If Jesus thought he was God and he didn’t know any better, then we could call Him a lunatic.
The only viable option is that Jesus is who He claimed to be – fully God. He is Lord. He’s more than just a great moral teacher. The leaders of Jesus’ day did not seek His death because he was a good man or a liar or a lunatic. They charged Him with blasphemy for claiming to be God (Mark 14:61-64). Nevertheless, all the Messianic passages of the Old Testament came true in His life. He indirectly claimed deity and He acted as if he was God in the Gospels. He told the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven.” He gave a new commandment in addition to the Ten Commandments of Moses. He requested prayer in His name. He even accepted worship on at least nine occasions. He never rebuked their worship.
If Jesus is God, this means we must listen to Him and follow His teachings. If Jesus is not God, then Christians are idolaters because they have worshiped him as God since the first century. A mere 15 years after Jesus lived, Paul quoted a hymn in Philippians 2 that says Jesus was equal with God. What convinced these monotheistic Jewish people to assert such radical things? What must Jesus have been like, what character must He have had, what claims must He have made, and what incredible deeds must He have done, to convince these orthodox Jews that He was everything their faith said a man could never be? (Boyd, Letters, 114). It was the resurrection of a man who had already embodied God-like attributes that would move them to make such a claim. If His claim is true, then it is imperative that we become a Christian and worship Him.
Let’s not offer the patronizing nonsense of just a “good moral teacher” to echo a Lewisian line. This leads us to wrong conclusions. Here’s a common one. Jesus may have existed, but his story has been embellished by His followers. People have modified the story to fit their agenda. Here’s another: Jesus never really died. He survived the crucifixion, married Mary Magdalene, hustled off to France, and raised a family. Here’s another: Jesus was a magician. He could stage miracles and use slight of hand like David Copperfield to win an audience. Patronizing, non-historical nonsense.
The only viable option if we allow the biblical information to speak to the subject, is that Jesus is who He claimed to be. If this is true, then neutrality is not an option and atheism is a mute point. If you ignore Him, you’re ignoring God Himself.