Jesus Was Not Just a Moral Teacher

Dear Friend:

Many people in today’s world that don’t know Jesus well, but have heard some of His more famous teachings or have a sense of what He is known for will say that they believe that Jesus was a “great teacher” or “lived a good life as an example to follow.” By doing this, they put him on a level with great figures in human history such as Confucius, Gandhi, or even more recently, someone like Martin Luther King, Jr. This allows them to avoid having to be “opposed to Jesus” while at the same time also avoid acknowledging Him as God and Lord of their life. They try to do this, but the Bible points out that if you don’t know Him as Lord, you are an enemy of God. James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (People from work who read my legal updates will no doubt snicker when they see me using a footnote here. I can’t help it.)] But I need to let you know that

It is impossible for Jesus to just be a great moral teacher.

The reason that this is impossible is that according to the Bible, Jesus claimed over and over to be God. He claimed authority to forgive sins, which only God rightfully has (Mark 2:5-12). He claimed to have existed forever (John 8:58). He accepted worship of himself as God (John 9:35-38). The Jews at the time certainly understood that He was claiming to be God as they wanted to stone Him more than once for blasphemy. (Matt 9:3; Matt 26:63-65; John 5:18; John 10:33). For many more examples, here are two good websites to check out:

Critics try to argue that Jesus never claimed to be God, but instead these statements of Jesus were added by later writers as legend. But if we accept the teachings of Jesus as legitimate and accurate enough to consider Him a great moral teacher, how can we simply disregard those statements we are uncomfortable with as made-up fabrications?

It is impossible for Jesus to just be a great moral teacher.

Since Jesus claimed to be God, that leaves us with three possible conclusions. The first option is that Jesus was crazy. He was filled with delusions of grandeur and thought he was God when He wasn’t. Can a lunatic be considered a great moral teacher? Do you base your morality on the words of a madman?

The second possibility is that Jesus claimed to be God, but knew that He was not. This makes Him a liar of the worst kind. Just think of the depth of evil that follows from millions and millions of people through the ages giving their lives for a cause that turned out to be a deliberate falsehood? Could this all stem from a great moral teacher?

The third possibility, of course, is that Jesus was who He claimed to be. God in human form, sent to Earth not to teach morality, but to die in my and your place and pay the punishment for our sins so that we might be reconciled to Him.

I am certainly not smart enough to come up with this on my own. It stems from Mere Christianity, a terrific book by C.S. Lewis (who is well-known for the “Chronicles of Narnia” books). Here’s what he had to say on this subject:

“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. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

If you come to the conclusion that Jesus is God, the next step is realizing that what He says is perfectly true. He is the only way to God and eternal life (John 14:6). It is time to claim His free gift of grace and accept Him as Lord of YOUR life.

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