John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

The Problematic Jesus

Jesus said he had more authority than anyone else. He talked as if he were the center of the universe. He spoke about what went on in heaven as if he knew. He said the world was so broken that it needed someone perfect to die as a “ransom”.

Now, our frame of reference for the word “ransom” is usually something you pay to buy someone back — usually someone who has been kidnapped. That’s really the only time we use the word anymore. But Jesus’ first listeners would have understood it a little differently.

Back then a ransom was what you paid when someone foolishly squandered their inheritance. Such a person would have been subject to ridicule, scorned, ostracized, cut off from the rest of the community and, eventually, left to die alone because of the error of their ways. The only way for that foolish person to be restored to the community was by somehow raising enough money or finding a kind benefactor to pay the ransom.

Jesus said the whole world was foolish and had lost its inheritance. He said he would pay the ransom, though, and restore them.

That’s…uh…a bold thing to say.

But, without a doubt, the craziest thing Jesus ever said — and the thing that finally rules out the possibility of Jesus being simply a wise and moral teacher — is that he would come back from the dead.

Be honest with me: If you had actually lived during his lifetime and had somehow managed to be in a place to hear him in person, how would you have responded when you heard his problematic claims? Would you have concluded that he was simply a wise and moral teacher? Would you have thought him dangerous? Would you have followed him?

Maybe a more pressing question is this: What would it have taken to convince you that he was both wise AND moral?