How often have we all heard a variation of “Jesus was a good person with fantastic morals and he was a great teacher, but that’s all he was.”? It’s a very common thought for a lot of people, isn’t it? People realise that Jesus was real, but they are not willing to accept his claims that he is God. They can see that the values he taught are really good values that we should all aspire to, but don’t want to engage in the other truths that he teaches such as “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
However, when you look at the life of Jesus and the claims he makes, he could not be a good person if a good person and a great teacher was all he was. So, when someone talks to you and says expresses those doubts about Jesus being God, you could ask if they have heard of the 4 L’s.
Legend – Many people say that Jesus didn’t exist at all but was merely a legend that sprang up. The fact is, historians all agree that Jesus existed. There is actually more proof that Jesus existed than there is proof for Julius Cesar or Homer or any other of ancient history’s famous people. Historians never argue about Jesus’ existence. Because they know he really lived in history.
So we know that Jesus existed, what then?
Lunatic –Some people say that the claims of Jesus are so outlandish and his commitment to them is so total, that he could not be anything but a lunatic. However, ask anyone who works with people living with such delusions and they will tell you that a mental condition like that is marked by emotional instability and huge mood swings. When you look at the historical accounts of Jesus’ life, both those in the Bible and those from non-Christian historical sources, his life shows none of those emotional markers. He is unflappable, always in calm control, the one who is trying to bring reasonable conversation into emotionally charged settings.
No, Jesus was no lunatic. So where does that leave us?
Liar – Some say, “Okay, he wasn’t insane, just a liar who was totally convincing about his claims. He is part of some massive conspiracy that the disciples were totally into as well.” In this view the disciples removed his body after his death and used that to trick everyone into believing Jesus had risen from the dead because they wanted to start a new religion, overthrow the Romans and end their oppression.
I see two problems with this theory. Number one, Jesus’ own life is one that stands for truth and transparency. His life has always impacted people for moral good. That is not the outcome of a life that is a lie. And it is difficult to imagine that Jesus would go through everything that he did knowing it was a lie. Number two, there is no way that his disciples would all be willing to be martyred for the sake of a belief and message they knew was fake. A person lies because it is to their own advantage. Can we see any personal advantage in dying, when they could have been set free by admitting it was a lie?
No, to say Jesus’ whole life was a big lie doesn’t fit anything we know about him.
If Jesus is not just legend that sprang up, if he could not have been a lunatic, if we reject the idea that his life was one big lie, then what option is left?
Lord – Well if all those things are not true, we are only left with one option, aren’t we? Jesus is Lord. If Jesus isn’t a legend, and history shows that he’s not, then he’s either a lunatic, a liar or his claims are true and he is who he claimed to be.
So you see that Jesus did not leave the door open for the idea that Jesus is just a good person and a great teacher. If he is those things, then he is also who he claimed to be. There is no other option.
So if you want someone in your life to consider the Christian message, you could ask them what they think about Jesus and his teaching. Challenge them with the 4 L’s and trust God to speak through you in that conversation!