We do a good job of distancing ourselves from Jesus. We have a number of ways to keep him at arm’s length.
We call him a great leader, a sage, a good man, but all of these designations make Jesus avoidable, just another character in history.
However, when you look at Jesus more closely, when you read what he actually said, you realize he cannot be so easily categorized and dismissed.
Recently, in our student ministry, we looked at four outrageous claims Jesus makes. John Stott highlights these claims in his book, Basic Christianity.
Here are the four claims Stott lists:
- Jesus teaches the Truth.
Jesus did not simply interpret or offer opinions. He spoke with authority (Matthew 7:28-29). And he even claimed to be the truth (John 14:6).
- Jesus forgives sin.
Jesus forgave people of sin, not just personally…like between he and them, but cosmically and categorically (Mark 2:5).
- Jesus will judge the world.
Jesus speaks of the last days several times, and in each scenario, he places himself in the judgment seat (Matthew 7:21-23).
- Jesus imparts life.
Jesus claims to have the power of life at his disposal. Literally. Not just some metaphorical, encouraging sense of being a “life-giving” person. He claims the literal power of resurrection (John 5:21).
These claims leave us no wiggle room. As C.S. Lewis suggested, in light of these claims, Jesus must be a liar, a lunatic, or LORD. He is the stone of stumbling, the rock in your path. He is unavoidable. You can’t go around him. You can’t relegate him to historic figure or good guy. He demands a verdict. You must either kneel at his feet or turn and run. There is no third option.