What are we to make of Jesus Christ? This is a question which has in a sense a frantically common sign. For the real question is not are we to make of Christ, but what is he to make of us. The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has common elements about it.
But perhaps the question meant in the sense of “how are we to solve the historical question set us the recorded sayings and acts of this man?” This problem is to reconcile two things. On the one hand you have the depth and sanity of his moral teachings. Which, is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity. In fact, I find when I am arguing with very anti-God people, that they rather make a point of saying “I am entirely in favour of the moral teaching of Christianity. And, there seems to be a general agreement that the teaching of this man and of his immediate followers, moral truth is exhibited at its purest and best. It is not sloppy idealism. It is full of wisdom and shrewdness. The whole thing is realistic. Fresh to the highest degree. The product of a sane mind. That is one phenomenon.
The other phenomenon is the quiet appalling nature of this man’s theological remarks. You all know what I mean, but I want to stress the point that the appalling claim which this man seems to be making is not merely made at one moment of his career. There is of course the one moment which led to his execution. The moment at which the high priest said to him “who are you?”, (he responds), “I am the anointed. The Son of the uncreated God and you will see me at the end of all of history as the judge of the universe”.
But that claim in fact does not rest in fact at one dramatic moment. When you look into his conversation you will find this claim running throughout the whole thing. For instance, he went about saying to people “I forgive your sins”. Now it is quite natural for a man to forgive something you do for him. Thus, if somebody cheats me out of 5 pounds, it is quite possible and reasonable for me to say, “well…I forgive him. We will say no more about it”. What on earth would you say if somebody would do you out of 5 pounds and I said “that is alright I forgive him”. Then there is a curious thing which seems to slip out by accident.
On one occasion, this man is sitting looking down on Jerusalem on the hill above it. And suddenly in comes an extra ordinary remark “I keep on sending you prophets and wise men”. No body comments on it and yet quiet suddenly almost incidentally he is claiming to be the power that all through the centuries is sending wise men and leaders into the world.
Here is almost another curious remark. In almost every religion there are unpleasant observances like fasting. This man suddenly remarks one day “no one need fast while I am here”.
Who is this man who remarks that his mere presence suspends all normal rules? Who is a person who suddenly can tell a school “you can have a half holiday?” Sometimes the statements put forward that he, the speaker, is completely without sin or fault. This is always to whom the attitude. You to whom I am talking are all sinners. And he never remotely suggests that this same reproach can be brought against him.
He says again “I am begotten of the one God. Before Abraham was….I am”.
And remember what the words “I am” were in Hebrew. They were the name of God which must not be spoken by any human being. The name which it was death to utter. Well that is the other side. On the one side, clear definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which if not true, are those of a megalomanic. Compared with whom Hitler was the most humble and sane of men. There is no half way house and there is no parallel in other religions.
If you had gone to Buddha and asked him “are you the son of Brahma?” He would have said “my son you are still in the veil of illusion”. If you had gone to Socrates and asked “are you Zeus?” He would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Muhammad and asked “are you Allah”. He would first rent his clothes. If you had asked Confucius “are you heaven?” I think he would have probably replied “remarks which are not in accord with nature are in bad taste”. The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.
In my opinion the only the person who can say that sough of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusions which undermines the whole mind of man……….