[Back to Parish Home Page]
Who is Jesus? A fraud, a fool or fair dinkum?

What are all the logically possible alternatives?

FACT: The Gospels record Jesus admitting at his trial to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and the King/Judge of the World who would reign from heaven with God (Mt 26:63-66, Mk 14:61-64, Lk 22:67-70, Jn 18:33-37). These claims were what led to his condemnation to death as a blasphemer. He also describes himself on rare occasions as "I AM" (e.g., Mk 6:50 in the original Greek, John 8:58), which is the meaning of the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh or Jehovah. What he claimed by his actions backed up his words, since he accepted worship (Mt 14:33, 28:9, Jn 20:28) without rebuking the worshippers. Of course, all Jews knew that it was blasphemous to worship anyone but God, but the disciples at certain points could not help themselves, e.g. after the resurrection. So, Jesus never explicitly said "I am divine" or even, out of his own lips, "I am the Messiah"; otherwise he would have alienated, confused and offended everybody and got himself stoned to death before his ministry could be completed! However, he gradually built up the disciples' understanding of his identity by his words and deeds, culminating in the resurrection and what happened after this, according to the Gospel accounts.

Now, there are 2 possibilities regarding this testimony. Click on each to see where it leads. (Here and elsewhere use the "Back" button on your browser to go back a step and check other alternatives.)

  1. Jesus' implicit claims are NOT honestly portrayed in gospels. The authors made this stuff up.

  2. Jesus' implicit claims are honestly portrayed in gospels.

Jesus did not claim to be the divine saviour of humanity

In this case there are only 2 ways to understand the disciples' misrepresentation. Click on each to discover the choice you are effectively making if you dismiss the witness of the Gospel writers in either way.

  1. The early witnesses believed Jesus was Lord, so put words in his mouth etc. to bolster this belief in others.

  2. The early witnesses did not believe Jesus was Lord. These earliest testimonies are pure fabrications: insincere deceptions by people who didn't believe, but wanted others to do so.

Jesus really did present himself as unique, a Saviour necessary for all men, one with divine authority

In this case there are only 4 alternatives. Click on each to make clear the choice you have made if you pick that alternative!

  1. His claim is untrue, but he did not know it. He was a sincere but incredibly deluded man. A megalomaniac and a lunatic who "meant well".

  2. His claim is untrue and he knew it. He was an evil, deceiving fraud. A liar and a con-artist of the most shameless kind.

  3. His claim was true but misunderstood by his first followers. He just wanted us to realise we are all gods. He was a guru!

  4. His claim is true and was correctly understood by his disciples. He is the Lord.

To make this choice you must: Believe that since the earliest disciples were monotheists who believed worshipping anything other than God was the worst evil, they must have been totally convinced Jesus was the Lord, but by his deeds alone (since this choice says they had to put words in his mouth as he never made the claims himself)! Then irrationally and inconsistently accept necessarily divine, incredibly miraculous acts by Jesus, but not divine words. Or just ignore the question of why the disciples believed such astonishing things about Jesus. Ignore the fact that the Jewish enemies of Christianity accused Jesus of practicing "sorcery" and "enticing" Israel to follow him, rather than accusing his disciples of misrepresenting him, so even they recognised Jesus' implicit claims.

To make this choice you must: Ignore the fact that the disciples had no motive to lie or exaggerate about Jesus that could possibly compare with the motive not to -- making these claims marginalized you from your community and often led to stoning, crucifixion or beheading!

To make this choice you must: Ignore clear evidence of Jesus' sanity & wisdom & humour & call him a nutcase. Ignore the fact that the well-established psychological profile of mentally-ill people with a "divinity complex" - dullness, predictability, and inability to love and understand others as they really are - is the exact opposite of what we see in Jesus.

To make this choice you must: Ignore clear evidence of Christ's sincerity & beauty of character (generally acknowledged even by unbelievers) and call him a virtual devil in the flesh. Then believe an insincere conman was willing to be slowly tortured and killed for the sake of a personal claim he didn't even believe himself.

To make this choice you must: Ignore clear evidence of Jesus' Jewish background and religious context and call him a new age psychobabbler who completely failed to get his most intimate associates to understand his point. Believe that 20th century Westerners with a partial interest in Eastern religion understand Jesus the 1st century Jew better than other 1st century Jews.

To make this choice you must: Accept Christian truth intellectually. Then there is one more choice to make. Can you take the more important step of letting this truth make a difference in your life? If Christ is the Lord, he is your Lord. You must make the choice either to trust and obey him, or reject him, now that you know who he really is and what he has done for you.