A PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW
An essential underlying question about Jesus that isn’t commonly propounded to the inquisitive, erudite atheist, or the open-minded agnostic, is—-is there any part of us that wants to believe Jesus was God?
Would it be off-putting to believe such a thing? Is it the science behind God in human form that throws us off, or is it the seeming incredulity of what the Bible says took place? What is the importance of wanting to believe Jesus was God, versus actually believing it? We’ll return to that in a moment.
When He was crucified after humbling Himself in the interrogation with Pontius Pilate, an unbeliever would label His death as martyrdom, and a believer would view the same act as paving the way for salvation. The commonality is this: they both see Jesus die after admitting to be God. Putting aside absolutes (I.e. “The Bible says so”, etc), would we prefer that Jesus was God based on His character?
MARTYRDOM OR SALVATION?
Christ-followers believe Jesus came to free sinners from eternal separation from God, also known as the second death (Revelations 21:8). Many unbelievers have a problem with the concept of God sending His Son to die, and when worded like that, God does sound barbaric. But what we should understand is that Christ had the power and the capacity to have chosen a different path. He wasn’t being forcefully thrown into the lion’s den by a sadistic God: He was choosing and displaying absolute obedience.
The difference between the two is that Jesus, the man, had the power of free will just like any of us as the result of being fully human, and fully God—but He used free will to be crucified in order to make possible the path to salvation. In other words, it was a purpose-driven decision made out of devotion to faith in God’s work.
Jesus choosing to lay His life down for us is why God loved Him (John 10: 17-18). While in partiality His death could be viewed as an initial act of martyrdom, salvation was the prominent motivation. Rising from the dead would break the punishment of death from ensnaring humanity, and the power in His rising would lead to the birth of salvation. Jesus’ choice wasn’t mere martyrdom, but the seed to becoming the very cornerstone for Christianity (Ephesians 2: 19-22).
COMMITTED TO THE PURPOSES OF GOD
Objectively, after denuding theological aspects, how does Jesus read off as a person? We don’t even have to think about the church or the rest of history after Jesus’ ascension. The character of Jesus delineated in the Bible portrays a man completely dedicated to God. The tidal wave of His actions would ripple throughout the rest of time as we know it. If we deduce He was crazy for His devotional spiritual posture, we can glean useful counter-feedback from the effects of Him teaching crowds, and interacting with those in His time.
Christ persuaded men from different backgrounds and crafts to follow Him as disciples, teaching them principles that challenged their religious beliefs. He also proselytized in truth to great multitudes, which found Him authentically divine. Lastly, He fearlessly rebuked the hypocritical Pharisees to the point of speechlessness, when they had all the political power they needed to put Him to death.
MORE THAN A MAN
Could Jesus really pass for crazy? He was described in numerous moments in scripture as loving (John 15: 9-17), forgiving (John 8:10-11), wise (Matthew 13:1-9), bold (Matthew 21:12-13), and human (John 11:1-43). The characteristics of Jesus described in the Bible do not draw the type of personality we’d associate with someone in a mental institution. He healed people. He told a parable differentiating between faith permanently transforming a person from the inside, and a life where faith is caught, but then lost. The depth, intricacy, and wisdom of Jesus’ stories were so perplexingly inspiring that they motivated the revelation for those who listened that He was more than a man. Truth would say He was more ahead of His time than the rest of His surrounding religious community.
This same loving, profound man believed God sent Him to die for sinners—while still in their sin—for the purpose of salvation. Could that render Him crazy against the backdrop of the rest of His character?
Could we call Him a liar? Only one who has truth can teach truth. He took Pharisees off guard whenever questioned and was never fooled by attempts to reveal Him as a hypocrite of His own teachings (Matthew 12:24-28). If anything, He came across as the author of truth—-far from the perimeters of a liar.
FILLING IN THE BLANKS
As a man alone, He wasn’t crazy, and He wasn’t lying—but, He believed He was God, and that He was sent for an eternal purpose. This is just the man we’re talking about.
Knowing this, would we want Him to be God? Does He say or do anything that makes us question His deity? What role does wanting Jesus to be God play in theorizing this notion?
A MORE INTACT GOD
The importance behind wanting to believe Jesus was God, versus actually believing it, is that the desire is an indication of how we view the connection between the implications of the man Jesus, and the Biblical claims of His deity. Believers know the relationship between humans and Jesus is different than the one between us and God, because Jesus is our mediator; He is relatable because He was God incarnate. In believing in Jesus as God, we put a face to God’s essence, which not only makes more sense of Jesus, but makes God more reachable—more intact.
LIMITLESS VALUE OF JESUS AS GOD
It’s befuddling to explain the stories of Jesus without scratching our heads, trying to figure out what category to place Him in. Which makes for an interesting side note—-we hear these stories about Christ, and our first instinct is sometimes to try to place Him in a box, compartmentalize Him—-assign Him a label to limit His true value as one to place our faith in. Why is that? Is there fear of what it could mean if it were true?
All put aside, what would we rather Him be if our choice could change the story? Could Jesus pass as only a man? Does deifying Him as Lord and Savior sound strange when we look at His characteristics as a man?
Let me know your thoughts by commenting down below! Be blessed today as you give some time to this important issue for both believers and unbelievers alike.