This past week I started reading Andy Stanley’s new book called “Deep and Wide.” This is an excellent book that encourages all church leaders to look at the way we do church and help us realize that we must seek to lead churches that are as much for the unchurched (those that do not know Christ as Savior and Lord) as they are for the churched (or the already converted believer). Early on in this book Andy talks about the history of the church and he beautifully writes about how a Jewish carpenter from a small town called together a small group of men (His disciples) and trained them for only about three years but yet the message of Jesus is on every corner of this world over 2000 years later. His point is that this most unlikely story is clearly a thing of God, as man would have never been able to pull off something of this magnitude. Of course, Andy writes it so much more elegantly than I could but when reading this, I was again taken to think about Jesus Christ. My thoughts about Him made me think back to an all-time great Christian classic piece of literature.
The leaders thought He must be a liar or a lunatic
C.S. Lewis has made famous the trilemma that Jesus must either be a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord of all in his book called Mere Christianity. Some also refer to this argument as the “Mad, bad, or God” view. This was the argument that Lewis used to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ. Ever since the time of Jesus, men have argued about who this man named Jesus from Galilee really is. During Jesus’ own earthly time, even the religious leaders (the people we would expect to realize that Jesus had arrived) did not understand or grasp the fact that the long awaited Messiah had arrived. The Pharisees and Sadducees were very curious about Jesus and often seemed to be following him around to catch him in a lie or they simply rejected him. To the religious leaders of that time, they seemed to come to the conclusion that Jesus was a liar. These religious leaders even knew their Old Testament scriptures very well but seemed to be expecting something far different than what Jesus was. They were not expecting the Messiah to be talking to prostitutes (John 4) and tax collectors. They were expecting someone to come and set up a kingdom on this earth (the disciples were expecting this too). To the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus was either a liar (as Jesus called himself God and even claimed to be able to forgive sins) or a lunatic. He definitely couldn’t be the Lord that they were expecting.
This is no small matter
Two thousand years later, many people continue to trivialize the life and teaching of Jesus. This will be argued over until the second coming of Jesus some day. Some will even go as far as calling Jesus a great moral teacher but not the Lord over all creation. This seemed to be the type of thinking that led C.S. Lewis to his famous trilemma (Jesus is lunatic, liar, or Lord). To Lewis, to say that Jesus is a great teacher or a great moral example but not the Lord just doesn’t make sense. Jesus made claims that He was God and that He could forgive sins. Lewis argued that either you believe that claim or you don’t. You cannot say that He taught great morality lessons but couldn’t be God. Jesus claimed to be God to make the people back then and even us today to make a decision about Him. We all need to make a decision about Jesus. If Jesus wasn’t the Lord over all then He would have been lying by saying that He was God. Or others argue that he must have been simply crazy to say the things that He is quoted as saying.
Take it personally
If you have read this far, you may be saying that you have heard this argument before. I know and understand that. But, have you ever really thought through the implications for your own life. When you hear the name of Jesus Christ, what do you really believe? Do you simply write Him off as a lunatic or crazy man? This point seems hard to argue. Jesus Christ was/is the most influential person to ever walk this planet! He changed the time line forever. The Bible is the best selling book of all time. To argue that He was a lunatic just seems crazy.
But maybe you think that Jesus was simply lying. I think that this view is what many people believe. They know He was not crazy but the argument goes that He did good things but he went a little too far with His stories and parables. This seemed to be the thinking of the religious and political figures of Jesus’ day.
He is Lord, life and peace
The final option is the option that will bring you life and peace. Jesus simply is who He said He was. Jesus is the Son of God and He not only lived on this earth but He died a martyr’s death for your sin and mine. But He didn’t just die, He conquered death through His resurrection from the dead. He is alive and well today. Everyone ultimately must make a decision about what you are going to do about Jesus. I pray that you do that today. Let your heart cry out to God and I believe you will find Jesus too. He is Lord of all!