Liar, Lunatic, Lord

Reflection on daily Mass readings of April 3, 2020. 



In today’s Gospel reading for the Mass, Jesus claims to be much more than just a spiritual guru or teacher. 

He refers to himself as “the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world” and he reminds them that he said “I am God’s Son” (John 10: 36), even after the religious leaders threatened to kill him for saying similar things.

“I am trying here,” says C.S. Lewis, “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.’”

Many people don’t want to accept that Jesus is God.  I’ve even heard people say they didn’t think JESUS thought he was God (certainly they haven’t studied their Bible!). Well then, is he?  With the help of C.S. Lewis (author of the Narnia series) from his book Mere Christianity let’s explore the topic of Jesus' true nature and identity.  Who is Jesus? Three options Lewis gives: Liar, Lunatic or Lord. 

Liar

It’s clear that Jesus claimed to be more than just human.  In today’s Gospel he referred to himself as God’s Son and in yesterday’s Gospel he said “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am”.  In both cases the religious leaders wanted to kill him for saying something blasphemous - for no human person could equate himself with God. How do we know he wasn’t lying?

One simple way is to look at his death.  Who would go to the grave with such a lie?  If it was a lie, why allow yourself to be hated, rejected, arrested, beaten, whipped and nailed to a Cross?  What would there be to gain? If it was a lie, then only a crazy person would die for it.  

Lunatic

So then how do we know Christ wasn’t crazy?  The problem with this is his character.  Those who knew him and those who have read about him see that he was wise and enlightened.  Many people would agree that his moral teachings (for example to love your enemy) are regarded as classic, as some of the greatest teachings written by man. 

Lord

If he isn’t a liar and wasn’t a lunatic, what’s left?  The proposal that the Church has proclaimed up and down the centuries: that Jesus Christ is exactly who he says he is.  

That’s the problem with how bold he was: you can’t respond passively to him.  

“You must make your choice,” continues Lewis.  “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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”  

Who do you say that he is?

Cameron Turner, NET Staff