Jesus sometimes is brought into discussions and used by opposing sides of social, political, or religious factions to make a point about the cause that fuels the social, political, or religious dialog. Many religions that are not Christian would claim Jesus is a moral or prophetic person. Political groups like to claim the teaching of Jesus are aligned with their cause. And generally speaking people might argue what Jesus would have done in a certain situation.
The reality however is that most people do not fully grasp the nature and weight of his actions and teaching. In contemporary society Jesus is a good natured softie that just wants everyone to love and be a “can’t we all get along?” kind of guy. But the Jesus represented in the Biblical Gospel is actually a very intense person with the gravitas to demand attention just by his very nature. That charisma did not come from any kind of societal privilege. He was born poor, working class, and not part of any Roman Citizenship. Yet when he came onto the scene he immediately attracted followers of everyday people and made enemies at the top of the privileged elitist ladders.
The unknown author of Hebrews claims that Jesus is the “exact representation” or “imprint” of God. If God, Creator of the Universe, life, and time itself where to join the creation in the form of a person then this man Jesus is the “exact representation” of who that Creator would be.
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3 NIV
Dwell on that for a moment. God walking among men and women would look, act, and be just like Jesus because Jesus is God. Does it seem crazy to say Jesus is God in those terms? Don’t believe the claim of the Hebrew text then here are the words of Jesus.
7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:7-9 ESV
Jesus told the disciples in no uncertain terms that by seeing him and knowing him that the disciples had known and seen the very creator of everything God the Father. Jesus is telling the disciples and us today plainly that He is God. Think on that. They are conversing with God who is in their presence.
Now we can hate him and deny him but what we are not able to do is claim him as some important prophet or moral teacher. Unique to Christ is the claim of being God in the flesh. Moral teacher undermines who Jesus claims to be. A religious prophet is only a spokesman for God. So the quandary comes home quickly on how to deal with Jesus.
C. S. Lewis famously wrote that there are only three conclusions one may draw on Jesus. He is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. Jesus claimed to be God. Anyone before or after who claims to be god in those terms is simply a crazy person. Or if he claims to be god it is for some selfish manipulative motive to gain power and wealth. Neither of those options fit Jesus and very few people ever make a case against Jesus on those terms. The only other conclusion is that Jesus who claims to be God in the flesh is indeed God in the flesh. In fact right before telling the Disciples that he, Jesus, is God the Father he made an exclusive claim that salvation, relationship, and life can be found only in him.
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:5-7 ESV
How do you categorize Jesus? Is he Lord with the authority to say “I am the way”?