John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

The Hardest Thing About Jesus

I want to pick back up on this thread I started yesterday — the stuff about Jesus being considered a wise and moral teacher but nothing more. My assertion is that if you remove the deity from Jesus he cannot be both wise AND moral; he can only be one or the other.

In order to be moral, you have to tell the truth. You can be crazy and honestly believe something that completely false and still be a moral person, but then you’re not wise. To be wise, you have to be right; to be moral, you have to be honest. A cursory examination of the things Jesus said and did reveal that we can say many things about him, but we cannot claim that he is merely a wise and moral teacher. He didn’t leave that option open for us. He projected a self-image that rules it out.

When Jesus speaks of himself you’ll find that he believed he was perfect. I’m not saying he was (though I believe he was); I’m simply saying here that he thought he was. Now, if you knew someone who claimed perfection, how would you respond? Either that person is among the least self-aware people on the planet (and thus could not be considered wise), or they are being deceitful (and thus cannot be considered moral).

Nobody’s perfect. Chesterton said that the depravity of mankind was the one part of Christian theology that could be empirically verified by simply looking around.

The Bible itself is very realistic about this. In fact, it could be said that the first thing humans must do in order to be accepted by God is acknowledge their imperfection. Throughout the Bible, the only category of people who receive grace are the humble. No humility? No grace.

But Jesus thinks he’s perfect.

Jesus passes judgment on those who were considered the most righteous people of his generation. Ironically, he passes judgment on people while telling us that we shouldn’t do the same.

Jesus elevates himself above the Law. In fact, he went so far as to claim to be the fulfillment of the Law.

One time a guy came to Jesus and called him, “Good Teacher.”

Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God can be considered ‘good’, right?”

In other words, Jesus was asking the young man to consider whether or not Jesus might be God.

Now, again, I ask you to think about this. What would you do with a person who claimed to be perfect? Who passed judgment on others but told you that you’re not allowed to? Who claimed to be above the Law? Who actually claimed equality in status with God?

You might think he is wise but immoral. Or you might think he is moral but unwise. Regardless, it would be extremely difficult to buy into his claims of perfection — unless, say, you followed him around for a while — or, maybe, conducted a thorough investigation where you interviewed a bunch of people who knew him really well (his mother, his brothers and sisters, his best friends, his financial supporters, etc.) and published your findings while they were all still alive.

Does all this prove anything? Well, no, but what I’m hoping to do here is make it impossible for us to simply dismiss Jesus as a “wise and moral” teacher.

We’ll talk more about this tomorrow, but I’ve been trying to be more intentional about asking questions here. So, your question today is this:

In your mind, what’s the hardest thing about Jesus? Believing the miracles? Believing his outrageous claims? Do tell.