Who is Jesus? Was he God in the flesh? A prophet? A good teacher? More importantly who did Jesus claim to be? There are two sections to this question: 1) What did Jesus claim about himself? And 2) What options are available in understanding who Jesus is given his claims about himself?
1) The Claims of Christ – Jesus, in no uncertain terms, claimed to be God, both directly and indirectly.
“Jesus Specifically Said, ‘I Am God’ ” by J. Warner Wallace | coldcasechristianity.com
2) Who is Jesus? – What options are available in understanding who Jesus is given his claims about himself? Given his divine claims the only options are: Legend, Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. Many people mistake the alternatives as saying since he couldn’t be a liar or a lunatic then he must be Lord (i.e., God), but that is not the point of the alternatives. It is to show that Jesus could NOT just have been a good, moral, religious teacher. He either was a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord, but the option of just a good teacher is not available to us. Read Lewis’ quote below carefully for clarification.
Legend: There never was a Jesus who claimed to be God.
Liar: Jesus deliberately deceived people in claiming to be God.
Lunatic: Jesus thought he was God but he wasn’t.
Lord: Jesus is who he claimed to be: God.
“Identity Check: Are C. S. Lewis’s Critics Right, or Is His ‘Trilemma’ Valid?” by Donald T. Williams | Touchstone May/June 2010
The most important thing to notice is that there is no option of Jesus just being a good moral teacher. Because Jesus taught he was God, if he wasn’t God, then he would be a terrible teacher. The next section on the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus was who he claimed to be: God.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. 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 for 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 with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
– C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity