I was discussing with some co-workers today matters of theology and specifically Christology. We were discussing the response to Christ and someone said that the Jews tend to see Jesus as a good person. A lot of them do, but I pointed out that the Talmud was not too keen on Jesus and there are even writings I recall of seeing pieces of where Jesus burns in Hell in excrement.
I thought about what I had just said then. Of course, I disagree with it, but I also thought “That’s a very real response though.” I thought about how we might not be taking Jesus seriously in his claims and recalled the trilemma of C.S. Lewis. A good man would not go around claiming to be God.
It seems we have gone a long way when Jesus’s words no longer shock us. As Lewis reminds us, they were the most shocking words ever uttered by human lips, yet on the lips of Jesus, they seem appropriate. Of course, his opponents didn’t think so, but there were several who did.
Who is the one who really responds to Jesus then? Well, the proper response of course is to fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but I actually think a closer response today is to revile him as wicked and evil. I think such people are closer to the truth than the ones who merely see him as a good man. The latter ones do not even understand his claims so they do not understand him. The former at least understand the claims. They just disagree. It is simply a matter of changing the position on the claims.
To see him as a good man is to easily dismiss all that he said. It is to make Jesus being merely one who teaches us that we ought to love one another. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew better. None of them walked around saying “This Jesus is a wicked and evil soul, but I sure love his ethics!” Or “He is insane, but he has such a loving attitude!”
No. We cannot agree with how they handled it, but let us be sure of one thing, they took him seriously. It is a shame that we in the modern church do not do such. We hardly stop to think “Wait a second! This guy claimed to be God! What does that mean?” The truth of the earthquake of the gospel should still send us aftershocks and I think a good question to ask would be “Why doesn’t it?”
Indeed, it’s time we read the gospels and looked serious at what was said. The most amazing event ever happened. God came down. However, today, we treat it as if it’s a nice bedtime story. Sure. Read it to your kids at night and tell them the truth, but never think this is just kid stuff. This is stuff that is meant to change everything.
And if it doesn’t change everything for you, then something’s wrong.