8.02.2005

Was Jesus a Great Moral Teacher?

“I believe Jesus was just a good moral teacher, but he certainly wasn’t God.” I get this a lot. It seems that many people write Jesus off as just “any other prophet”. Rather than creating a compromise, though, this position ends up making more enemies than friends. Why? In John 8, the local Jewish leaders were asking Jesus questions about himself. He puzzled them by declaring that Abraham rejoiced to see him. “You’re not even 50 years old, and you’ve seen Abraham?” they questioned. Jesus had a ready answer. “Before Abraham was, I Am.” This might seem somewhat mundane to us today. A little bit of bad grammar perhaps, but relatively boring nonetheless. But to the Jews, this was blasphemy. Centuries before, the Lord had appeared to Moses and told him that His Name was Yahweh. Literally translated, this means “I am”. This indicates the transcendent attributes of God; that He is outside of time and space. So when Jesus declared that “before Abraham was, Yahweh,” he was openly stating that he was God. The Jews understood this. After he said this, they picked up rocks and tried to stone him to death. He slipped through the crowd without them seeing him and escaped. So Jesus said he was God. There are two options now: he was telling the truth, or he was not telling the truth. If he was not telling the truth, then either he was lying or he was genuinely convinced that he was God. If he was lying, then he is not a great moral teachers. Great moral teachers who are not God don’t tell people (especially not their enemies) that they are God. If he was that confused, then he was a lunatic; on the level with someone who thinks they are a poached egg. But if he really was telling the truth, then He was LORD. So we have three options for Jesus Christ: Liar, Lunatic, or LORD. You can choose to disbelieve Him, you can shut Him up for a fool, or you can worship Him as LORD of your life. But, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “let’s not have any of this patronizing nonsense about His being a ‘good moral teacher.’ ” Liar, Lunatic, or LORD. What’s your choice? In Him, David S. MacMillan III

10 comments:

David Ketter said...

He's the LORD...I love this argument...Nice way to lay it all out...

Anonymous said...

You said...Jesus had a ready answer. “Before Abraham was, I Am.”

This might seem somewhat mundane to us today. A little bit of bad grammar perhaps, but relatively boring nonetheless.

Careful how you speak about the Holy Word of God!

David Ketter said...

Careful how you speak about the Holy Word of God!

Hold on there, "bad grammar" doesn't mean imperfection. To think that Jesus spoke like a world-famous scientist with three or four PhD's is taking it too far. Jesus was a back-country carpenter and his followers were common people as well - fishermen, zealots (for them, it was a job, lol), tax collectors, etc. They didn't speak a high form of any language. In fact, we know from the rough Greek in Peter's epistles that they didn't know how to speak in "fine" language, as it were.

D3 was not insinuating that God's Word was imperfect, but he did make a good point - many people would think that it was bad grammar. That's all...

David S. MacMillan III said...

Right, DJ. I wasn't saying that it was bad grammar. IF Jesus had meant "Before Abraham was, I was," it would have been bad grammar to say "I AM." But Jesus didn't say "I was". He said, "I AM." "Yahweh."

In other words, he said "I am God."

I was making the point that if you don't know about the Jewish customs and the name of God, you might think that saying "I Am" is bad grammar.

Anonymous said...

You said..."This might seem somewhat mundane to us today. A little bit of bad grammar perhaps, but relatively boring nonetheless."

Your tone is arrogant. You are to tremble at (not toy with) His Word, which He has magnified above His very Name. (Ps 138:2) This isn't a critique of Shakespeare!Jesus brought sharp division everywhere He traveled; only a small minority would have considered His teachings mundane or boring. That's just a bad train of thought and doesn't add a thing to your otherwise decent argument. Say what you mean without associating the very Word of our Precious Lord Jesus with mediocrity.

God forbid that any of His children would be so haughty to refer to His Words as "boring" to make our point!

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

David S. MacMillan III said...

You said... "This might seem somewhat mundane to us today. A little bit of bad grammar perhaps, but relatively boring nonetheless."

Your tone is arrogant. You are to tremble at (not toy with) His Word, which He has magnified above His very Name. (Ps 138:2) This isn't a critique of Shakespeare!


I'm not critiquing God's Word, I'm pointing out that people today unfamiliar with Jewish culture would be confused by this. They wouldn't understand it, and would think that it was bad grammar to say "I AM" instead of "I was".

Jesus brought sharp division everywhere He traveled; only a small minority would have considered His teachings mundane or boring.

It wasn't His teachings that were considering mundane or boring by the people back then, it is the very specific word usage that would be misunderstood by people today.

God forbid that any of His children would be so haughty to refer to His Words as "boring" to make our point!

I do apologize if this particular quote was misunderstood. But the difference between the average American's reaction and the Jew's reaction is tantamount and even central to Christ's claim of Godhood.

These words are so important that we must make sure people don't see them as boring.

In Him,

David

Anonymous said...

lunatics, can be good moral leaders.

David S. MacMillan III said...

Example?

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Carter

David S. MacMillan III said...

Did Jimmy Carter claim that he was God?

It doesn't get much more lunatic than that (unless it is really true).