Wasn't Jesus just a great teacher?
This is an important issue, and one I had to wrestle with myself. If Jesus is just a historical figure, a great moral teacher, then what he said doesn’t need to have any bearing on my life. But if he is God, then I need to sit up and take notice! So that questton of whether he’s a great historical teacher or much more than that is really pretty crucial.
It seems to me only fair to Jesus to listen to what he said about who he was. Let me tell you about one event in his life, that you can read about in the gospel (the biography) of Jesus written by John. Jesus called himself “I AM”, and the people listening picked up rocks and tried to stone him! Why? Because “I AM” is the Old Testament name for God, and the people listening understood that Jesus was indeed calling himself God.
So you see, that’s what Jesus had to say about himself—not that he was a great teacher, but that he was much much more than that.
Now of course, anyone can say that they’re God! The amazing thing about Jesus is that he backed up what he said with what he did. It’s hard to examine Jesus’ life and think he’s just a great historical figure. His miracles are astounding. He healed people, he brought them back from the dead, he changed water into wine, he even walked on water.
My point is this—a great man, a great moral teacher, wouldn’t have made the claims that Jesus made, and wouldn’t have had the power to do the things that Jesus did.
Jesus’ claims to be God don’t allow us the option of thinking he’s just a good teacher.
If you think about it, because he claimed to be God, Jesus was either a madman—someone who thought he was God, but was really crazy; a liar—someone who was deliberately deceiving the people; or he was who he said he was—he was God. So in other words, Jesus was either mad, bad, or God.
And I‘d say his resurrection, his rising from the dead and literally conquering death, is resounding proof of his claim to be God.
Now as I said, this is an issue that I’ve really thought about myself; and once I read the Gospels I was just utterly convinced that Jesus was who he said he was. And if he is God, then it’s important for us to think through what that means for us and for our lives.
As Kara said, as we read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we meet an amazing man. We meet a man who said he was God; who did things only God can do; and who fulfilled all the predictions God had made about the coming of his King and Son. To get to grips with who Jesus really was, the best thing you can do is to read a Gospel. Mark’s the shortest!
So if you’d like to think through who exactly this Jesus is, why not:
READ Mark’s Gospel (you can do that on this site, just click on “Read Mark
GO TO www.bethinking.org/bible-jesus
GET A COPY of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, a book which looks at the evidence for Jesus and asks all of the questions people have about who he was (you can get a copy here