Take Your Pick
Nearly all credible historians will concede that a man by the name of Jesus lived and died in the land of Palestine about 2,000 years ago. Even most atheists accept the historicity of Jesus the Nazarene. There simply is overwhelming evidence that points to a man named Jesus who lived and died in the first century. In fact, just by acknowledging the “first century,” one is describing a time based upon the birth of Jesus. Our whole dating method is based upon this man called Christ [“B.C.” meaning “before Christ,” and “A.D.” (standing for Anno Domini) meaning “in the year of the Lord”]. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and infidels (for the most part) all accept that Jesus was an actual human being.
However, even though most people who know some world history admit that Jesus was a real person, relatively few believe He was God in the flesh (as the Bible repeatedly emphasizes). They might say He was a good man, or that He was a noted philosopher or great moral teacher, but the fact is, the majority of the people in the world do not believe He was (as Peter claimed nearly 2,000 years ago) “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Have you ever thought about what people actually are saying who deny the deity of Christ, yet believe He was a good man? They are saying that Jesus was not Who He claimed to be—the Son of God. They are advocating that even though Jesus accepted such claims of deity from men (cf. John 1:29,41,49; 20:28) and claimed deity Himself time and again (Mark 14:62; John 9:36-38; 10:30; et al.), what he said was not true. Yet they still hold to the assumption that Christ was a “good man.”
Realistically, there are only three explanations that one can give as to who Christ was: (1) He was the greatest liar, con man, and phony the world has ever known; (2) He was a lunatic who simply labored under the delusion that he was God; or (3) He was who He claimed to be—God. Logically speaking, no other choices exist. The view that Christ was a raving madman has rarely been entertained by anyone who is aware of Christ’s life and teachings. No lunatic could answer questions with such profound wisdom and authority (cf. Matthew 7:28-29). What madman would teach that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us? The insane do not teach that we should “turn the other cheek,” and then set an example of exactly how to do that—even unto death. Lunacy does not produce such genius. For that reason, relatively few ever have been so foolish as to call Christ a lunatic.
Furthermore, not even the most celebrated infidels have been willing to characterize Christ as a con man or charlatan. Renowned infidel Henri Rousseau once wrote: “Yes, if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God” (Emile, 1.4). French humanist and staunch enemy of Christianity, Joseph Renan, called Jesus a “sublime person” and declared that in Him “is condensed all that is good and lofty in our nature” (Life of Jesus, chapters 1,28). The fact is, very few people throughout history ever have claimed that Christ was a liar or a lunatic.
But, if Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic, then logically He must have been who He claimed to be—the Son of God. One cannot profess sensibly that Christ was a good man, yet not the Son of God. Either He was both—or He was neither. Either Christ was a lunatic, or a liar, or the Lord. Take your pick, but choose wisely, for your eternal destiny is at stake.