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Who Is Jesus Christ and Why Should I Care?

“Who is Jesus Christ?” If you asked that question to a random group of people, you’d get a variety of answers. Some would say, “I don’t know.” Others would say, “I don’t care.” Among those who did care or felt they knew the answer, there’d still be some conflicting responses. For some, Jesus Christ would mean no more than an expletive.

No name in history has so much emotion tied to it either. Some would laugh at your question while others would get angry. Others would be excited to share their thoughts. Some might even cry in response to your question while others would feel like they’d let the person down you were asking about.

Regardless of your view on the responses you’d get, there’s one lesson you’d take away from that experience perhaps more than any other. The life of Jesus Christ had an undeniable influence on world civilization. One might initially think 2,000 years would be long enough to forget about such a controversial person as Jesus. But despite thousands of years, that hasn’t come close to happening.

In light of such an influence, what conclusion should we draw about Jesus? Is He even worth taking the time to discuss? And if so, what difference should He make in our lives and why should we care? That’s what we hope to answer here.

Who Is Jesus Christ and Why Should I Care?

Is Jesus a Lunatic, Liar or Lord?

Well-known Christian writer and thinker C.S. Lewis began his young adult life as an atheist but later became a follower of Jesus. In his book, “Mere Christianity”, he defended the life of Jesus Christ in an interesting way. Although he wasn’t the first person to do this, his unique way of saying it is one of the most memorable in recent history.

Lewis concluded there were only three possibilities about the person of Jesus. Either He was a lunatic or a liar, or He is Lord, as Jesus claimed. Lewis was weary of the many people who claimed Jesus was simply a good moral teacher. After all, argued Lewis, what ‘good moral teacher’ would claim to be God?

Lewis rightly argued that as soon as a seemingly ‘good moral teacher’ claims to be divine, that immediately eliminates them from the category of just a good teacher. Either they’re telling the truth, they’re knowingly lying or their mental faculties have failed them in the worst possible way. Here’s how Lewis explained the matter:

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’ argument is one used in apologetics to prove that Jesus Christ was and is who He claimed to be: God. This type of argument is referred to as the trilemma dilemma. Although it can be easy to become starry-eyed by such an argument seemingly devised by man, it likely was taken right from a well-known passage of Scripture instead (Mark 3:20-35).

In this passage, all three elements of the trilemma dilemma are included. The first question of Jesus that’s addressed was “Is Jesus just a demonic liar’?” Let’s look at how the scene unfolds.

Was Jesus a Lunatic?

This is the first question Lewis sought to answer. Was it possible Jesus’ mental faculties had failed Him? If this was true, then Jesus claimed to be God, just like someone who’s out of touch with reality may claim to be a beach ball or Santa Claus.

Each year, stories hit the news of someone who claims to be Jesus. This person may have murdered someone, been involved in a shootout with police or led a cult. Their erratic behavior immediately betrays their claims. They obviously aren’t who they say they are. Was the Jesus of the Bible the same?

According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ family came to visit Him one day. They didn’t come to see his miracles. Instead, Jesus’ family came to get Jesus and bring Him home. The Greek word actually means ‘apprehend’. Here’s the account:

“Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’”

Mark 3:20-21

In this account, Jesus is causing a stir like the world has never seen. People are being healed and huge crowds have gathered to see Jesus’s miraculous work. The crowds are so large at this point that they’re placing Jesus and others in danger of possibly being crushed. They’re also pressing against Jesus so forcibly that He can’t even eat.

Jesus’ own family just assumes He’s crazy—that He’s lost his mind. And so they come looking for Him. And we know from the account in John 7 that his brothers didn’t believe in Him (at least not at first).  In that account, they taunt Him about his ‘supposed’ ministry.

The siblings’ logical conclusion in Mark 3 was something like, “Jesus, this has gotten out of hand. This has gone too far. We’re concerned about your mental and physical wellbeing and are here to take you home.”

Imagine growing up with a perfect sibling as Jesus’s siblings did. It’s hard enough growing up with sinful brothers and sisters. So, imagine how tough it would’ve been to grow up with someone who was without any sin. Not only would Jesus have seemed highly odd, but there’s a very good chance his perfection would’ve only fueled their distrust and dislike for Him. He would’ve thought far differently from sinful people. At times, his perfection would’ve felt unbearable.

Someone later tells Jesus his family is outside wanting to speak with Him. It seems Jesus had an idea of why they’d showed up. In response to hearing his family had arrived, Jesus said his real family is those who do God’s will. Let’s look at what the scriptures say about it.

“Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.’

But He answered them, saying, ‘Who is My mother, or My brothers?’ And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.’”

Mark 3:31-35

Why would one’s siblings try to force a grown man around the age of thirty to comply? Odd, isn’t it? It appears his family was more concerned with fitting into the culture. However, Jesus was more concerned with his Father’s will of transforming culture. And one can’t transform culture for the Kingdom of God by complying with it as Jesus’ life well illustrated.

Jesus makes it clear that his true family are the children of God—those who are spiritually reborn. If Jesus had been ‘out of his mind’, He wouldn’t have angered his critics so much. If He was merely a lunatic, the Pharisees and the Israelites wouldn’t have sought to take his life. After all, if He’d been a lunatic, people would’ve laughed his actions off saying, “That’s just Jesus being Jesus.”

Instead, his message hit right to the core of the corrupt religious system of that day. He made many people uncomfortable, including his brothers, who thought they better calm things down a bit.

No, Jesus wasn’t a lunatic—someone totally out of touch with reality. Instead, He was the first man to live his entire life fully alive. He exercised insights and performed miracles that couldn’t be accomplished by the most successful and gifted people on the earth.

Why did Jesus seem to be ‘in left field’ to some? Because we, in our sin and rebellion to God, were far closer to being a lunatic than He was. Sin is a sort of madness, but since we’re all sinners, we tend to forget that.

Our rebellion against God isn’t simply foolish, it’s the height of insanity. It’s like an unarmed civilian attempting to overthrow an entire army. Our sin makes us enemies of God. Psalm chapter two shows how foolish it is for countries to attempt to overthrow God. If that’s the case, how much more is it true as individual people. And yet, that’s exactly our attitude before we make peace with God.

If Jesus seemed a lunatic, it was because we all were instead. One person being perfectly used by God would potentially seem mentally ‘out there’ to the entire human race who’d rebelled against God.

Yes, Jesus was different and He didn’t even bother trying to fit in. Having said that, He wasn’t out of his mind—We were. It was our ‘insanity’ He came to restore. And if that’s the reality, it only leaves us with two other options regarding the person of Jesus.

Was Jesus a Liar?

That’s the conclusion the teachers of the law came to in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus miraculously healed a man who was mute and blind. As that man began to talk, the crowds were amazed. The Pharisees, however, were not. This is what they said in response to Jesus’ amazing feat:

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub,’ and, ‘By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.’”

Mark 3:22

Beelzebub, a derisive Old Testament word used by the Israelites in reference to Satan, was who the Pharisees gave credit to for Jesus’s miracles. The religious leaders who were steeped in Biblical knowledge fully understood what such an accusation meant. The devil was a known liar and deceiver of humanity. In the Gospel of John, Jesus referred to Satan as the father of lies:

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

John 8:44

So not only did Israel’s spiritual leaders accuse Jesus of being a liar, but they accused him of being the worst sort of one. They claimed Jesus was working directly with the devil to deceive people. In reality, the Pharisees were worried about losing their livelihood, prestige and respect from the people. Jesus called the Pharisees out on these vain, short-sighted and harmful goals many times.

Unfortunately, the Pharisees’ goals didn’t make the lives of the people they were supposed to serve better. Instead, they placed heavier burdens on them. Weights God never intended for his children to bear.

It appears the Pharisees had to dig deeply to come up with this explanation of Jesus’s miracle. The idea that Jesus was working along with Satan to deceive people certainly wasn’t a prevailing thought of the time. Nor has this notion taken strong footing today (the idea that the power Jesus displayed came from demonic forces).

In a roundabout way, we could say it’s been believed that Jesus was a liar though. People regularly disbelieve the word of God or call it a book of lies. And since the Bible is clear that Jesus is God, the resulting conclusion is that Jesus is thought to be a liar or a fable by many. People who secretly believe this completely reject the idea that Jesus should have any influence on how they live (If they believe He exists at all).

In response to the Pharisee’s accusations, Jesus shared that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The idea being that if Jesus was casting out demons in the name of Satan, how would that benefit the kingdom of darkness? That was Jesus’s exact point. Casting out demons was obviously harming the devil’s temporary and evil reign. The Pharisees’ accusations turned out to be utterly inadequate and ridiculous.

Jesus may have been many things, but he wasn’t a liar. And if He wasn’t a lunatic or liar, only one possibility is left.

Is Jesus Lord?

C.S. Lewis, much like many generations before him had to make a choice. He saw only three options before him for the person of Jesus: lunatic, liar or Lord. And once he exhausted the first two as we have, that left him with only one possibility.

The remaining option didn’t necessarily feel ‘safe’ or ‘comfortable’ to Lewis. But that wasn’t exactly the point—at least initially. Here’s how Lewis described his experience:

“Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

Some might be surprised to see Lewis use the words ‘unlikely’ or ‘terrifying’ in his final realization. Yet, his authenticity and honesty sure are appreciated. The discomfort associated with Lewis’s realization was because he knew his eyes being opened required a response.

Another part of what likely made Lewis’s spiritual realization ‘terrifying’ and ‘unlikely’ was that he had to fight his sinful humanity. After all, man’s natural reaction is not to seek out God even after God has sought out man. Rather, humanity’s rebellion against God causes people to instinctively suppress and minimize who God is. And since we suppress who God is, we also downplay our responsibility to Him.

So, when Lewis was startlingly awakened spiritually, he had to throw off his old sinful self. The part of him that so strongly wanted to tell the God of all the universe to ‘get lost’ or suppress that He existed in the first place.

What would Lewis’ response to Jesus being God be? Would he completely reject Jesus despite more than ample evidence just as the Pharisees had done? Or, would Lewis take his epiphany seriously and bow down before the Lord of Heaven and Earth?

Thankfully, Lewis chose the latter of the two possibilities. After all, there’s no middle ground when it comes to devotion to God. Either we’re devoted or we aren’t.

Perhaps your struggle isn’t making Jesus the Lord of your life at this point. It could be that you want to do that but wrestle with what it looks like. If that’s where you’re at, what follows should help.

What Does It Mean to Make Jesus Lord of Our Lives?

Like Lewis, you may be ready to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. The challenge for you, however, may be, “What exactly does it mean to make Jesus Lord of your life?”

This can be a tough thing for all of us to grasp. We’re used to interacting with people based on what we know about them. We interact differently with our children than we do with our parents. We also behave differently with our teachers than we do with a police officer or grocery store clerk. All of these exchanges are something we’ve been conditioned to understand and appropriately respond to since childhood.

But when we arrive at the person of Jesus Christ, it can be easy to come up empty. He’s nothing like anyone we’ve ever met before. And unlike all the human interactions we’re accustomed to, part of accepting Him means doing so based on faith.

Once we finally believe that Jesus is real, there are only two options. Either we say, “Jesus, you’re the boss of my life,” or we say, “Jesus, despite all the evidence, I choose to live the way I want to instead.”

Either we remain a slave to our sinful desires and the inherent consequences or we become a slave of Jesus Christ and enjoy the rewards. Obeying sin ultimately leads to destruction while turning to Jesus for salvation leads to eternal life.

Making Jesus Lord of our lives means learning to think and live like He did. It means putting aside what we once thought was important and embracing what God thinks (obedience). It initially feels like a great sacrifice to make Jesus Lord, but it turns out to be the only path to true freedom.

What Others Said About Jesus

Throughout the scriptures and civilization, millions of people have come to vastly different opinions about Jesus. Here are several conclusions people came to in the scriptures about Him.

Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, was told by an angel that she’d give birth to Jesus even though she was still a virgin. Although Jesus would’ve displayed some physical characteristics of Mary, the Holy Spirit miraculously caused his conception. Here’s what Mary said about her Son:

And Mary said:

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’”

Luke 1:46-47

The Centurion and other bystanders at Jesus’ crucifixion were deeply affected by the dramatic death of Jesus. Here is their account:

So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’”

Matthew 27:54

After his crucifixion, Jesus visited the disciples and after seeing the scars in Jesus’s hands and feeling his side, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-29)

The Apostle Paul who originally persecuted the followers of Jesus had this to say about Jesus after his dramatic conversion:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

Colossians 1:15

The Apostle John when penning the gospel that bears his name, said the following about Jesus:

“He was in the beginning with God.”

John 1:2

“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Of all the claims made about Jesus, the Apostle Peter’s is one of the most famous. Here’s the account of what he said:

 “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’

So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’

 Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

Matthew 16:13-16

Just as He asked the disciples, Jesus eventually asks each of us, “Who do you say that I am?” He isn’t concerned about what others think of Him at that moment. His only concern is what you think of Him.

Thankfully, Jesus was far more than a good teacher. And he certainly wasn’t a liar or lunatic. Instead, He lived on earth as a perfect fusion of humanity and Godhood. God took on a human body, lived a sinless existence on earth and died an agonizing death on a cross. That same God rose from the dead and now is glorified.

Jesus’ ministry was carried out because of God’s intense love for people. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross allows Him to die in place of anyone who will believe on Him. Those who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior receive eternal life.

This life has many challenges and distractions. Sometimes it can be difficult just to carry out the most basic essentials of life. But in the midst of your busy schedule, do your best to remember one thing.

Jesus is way more than an interesting but irrelevant person. Instead, He’s the only way to true hope, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Who is Jesus Christ? He is the Savior of the world and He loves you more than you can understand.