More Than Just a "Good Man"

Jesus Christ is admired by many in our world today. People are often impressed with His compassion for others, His brilliant teaching, His commitment to peace and justice, and His deep “spirituality.” In the eyes of some folks, Jesus is kind of a Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa all wrapped in one. Yet, many of the folks who admire Jesus, reject His claim to be the eternal Son of God. They are ready to embrace Him as a good man or a great teacher, but the Christian understanding of Jesus as God in a human body is simply too much for them to swallow. One individual who seems to recognize that Jesus must have been more than merely “a good man” is Bono, the lead singer of the group U2. Here is what he said a number of years ago in an interview with Michka Assayas:

Michka: Christ has His rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that far-fetched?

Bono: No, it’s not far-fetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: “He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, was in the same league as Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius.” But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off the hook. Christ says, “No, I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me a teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying I’m the Messiah. I’m saying I am God incarnate.” And people say: “No, no, please just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the ‘M’ word! Because you know we are going to have to crucify you.” And Jesus goes, “No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army and set you free from these creeps, but I am the Messiah.” At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes and says, “Oh, my goodness, He’s gonna keep saying this.” So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was–the Messiah–or a complete nutcase. I mean we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s far-fetched.

Friends, the point Bono was making is clear. If Jesus was and is the eternal Son of God, it is a great insult to merely think of Him as “a good man.” If Jesus was and is not the eternal Son God, then He certainly should not be considered “a good man.” Once we realize that the historical evidence indicates that Jesus really did make these remarkable claims, then we each need to decide how we will respond. C.S. Lewis pointed out that there are only three options. Jesus may have really believed He was God because He was a lunatic. Or, Jesus may have made His claim to deity knowing it was false because He was trying to deceive others which would make Him an evil liar. Or, Jesus claimed to be God the Son because that is who He actually was and is. Yes, the third option is quite extreme, but I am convinced it is much more plausible than either of the first two. And the one thing which seems obvious is this: Jesus was not “just a good man.”
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Dan Erickson