When you make a list of the most important people in history, there are a few people that would automatically come up near the top of the list. Political and military leaders like Napoleon, Winston Churchill, or Alexander the Great. Religious or activist leaders like Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus, or Martin Luther king. What has always been fascinating to me is two questions that put Jesus in a category all on his own.
The first question is this: who are the moral leaders of their time? This narrows our list of important people quite a bit. Hitler obviously would be dropped from our list because although he was impactful on history he wasn’t someone we see as a moral hero. On a lesser extreme people like Alexander the Great or even Winston Churchill wouldn’t fit our description of a moral leaders. A moral leader isn’t just a good guy, or even someone who is a a good moral example, but someone who advances or improves the morality of the culture of his or her time. That leaves us suddenly with a very slim list. Gandhi, Buddha, Jesus, arguably Muhammad, if you’re a Muslim, Martin Luther King Jr. and some other scattered here and there.
It’s interesting here to note, that almost, if not all of these moral leaders are religious leaders and often founders of those religions.
The second question is what then puts Jesus in a class of his own. Who within history has ever claimed to be God.
Now we have a new grouping of people. Once again, some rulers like Julius Caesar would fit nicely. They believed that their powers of rulership were rooted in their divinity, and therefore claimed to be God. We would also have some crazies. I once helped a man who after being in a horrible motorcycle accident who claimed to be God. I had my doubts God would have been hurt traveling at 40mph on a Harley. Crazies are the guys or girls who while they claim to be God, should instead be in a room with a lot of padding.
But there is one person in that group of people, that claim to be God, that is unique
Out of all the Moral leaders in the world, only Jesus claimed to be God. We have lots of rulers who claimed to be God, but none of them were religious leaders, in fact none of them would we even view as good moral examples. We also have moral leaders, but none of them claimed to be God. Except one.
He was smart, he was a sage, a religious leader, a moral teacher and leader, but unlike anyone else who fit those descriptions he alone claimed to be God.
Does this prove that Jesus was God? No. But it does give us reason to think about what we think about Jesus, because unfortunately, Jesus claim to be God puts us in a tough spot.
If Jesus isn’t God, the alternatives become hard to swallow. If Jesus thought he was God, but wasn’t, this suddenly puts Jesus into the category of both the insane not a moral leader. Both of which most people wouldn’t ascribe to God. But why is this our alternatives?
It’s pretty simple to see that if Jesus believed he was God, he was insane at some level. But people don’t simply believe they are God, and live a functional, and exemplary life like Jesus did. At least, I haven’t met one.
If Jesus just lied about being God he wouldn’t be a moral leader either. Keep this in mind. Jesus was killed because he said he was God, and John the Baptist, while Jesus was alive was killed for believing Jesus was God. If Jesus was the least bit wise he would ahve knownt that his followers would be killed for believing he was God. If Jesus knew he wasn’t God and never told them is he really a moral example anymore? No.