Was Jesus just a good moral teacher?
The world’s image of Jesus doesn’t match up to who He said He was.
“So who do you think Jesus is?”
I asked the question boldly. I was chatting to a couple of first year university students about life, subjects and study and thinking how I would bring the conversation around to Jesus. Eventually I just decided to go for it.
They both looked a little surprised. After some silence, one of them said:
“Um, a good guy I guess.”
A good guy?
I think a lot of people are like the students I talked to – they think that Jesus was just a good guy or a good moral teacher. He wasn’t the Son of God, he just gave some good tips on how to be a decent human being.
But there’s a problem with this view. Yes, Jesus did teach people to love their neighbours as themselves, but a lot of what Jesus said wasn’t just good moral advice.
What Jesus Said
Jesus said some pretty dramatic things like:
- “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life”. – John 5:24 (NIV)
- “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.” – John 7:16 (NIV)
- “The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”” – John 4:25-26 (NIV)
So Jesus claimed that he was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, and that he was sent by God. In reading the gospels, you can’t ignore it – Jesus claimed he was the Son of God. It was this claim, and not his moral teachings, that led to his death:
“For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” – John 5:18 (NIV)
If Jesus really was the Son of God, what does that mean for you and I?
C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity,says:
“You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up as a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher.”
So if you’re reading this and you’ve always kind of assumed that Jesus was just a good guy, just a good moral teacher, think again. Look at the claims Jesus made. Think seriously about whether he might actually be who he said he was.
And if you’re reading this and you know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, our saviour, make sure you’re ready to tell people about him. And if people tell you that they think Jesus was just a good guy, you might be able to prompt them to think about who he really is.