Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

Chosen Reflections: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?


Was Jesus simply a good teacher? A wise man? Some say that’s all He was.

Did Jesus search the Scriptures and then manipulate events to con people into thinking He fulfilled the prophecies? Some say that’s what He did.

Was Jesus insane, given over to delusions of grandeur? Some say yes.

Did Jesus actually claim to be God? Some say He never made such an open claim.

Which is right?

For fans of the series, The Chosen, episode one of the second season addressed these questions in a flash-forward scene. The scene included a conversation between the apostle John and Mary (Jesus’s mother) in which John explains his motivation for writing his gospel account. “I want it to be known that He was much more than could be seen or touched.”

During Jesus’s years of public ministry, He said and did many things causing people to follow Him. But in New Testament times, many teachers, known as rabbis, had followers. They spoke wisely about the Scriptures, sharing their knowledge with their disciples. So what made Jesus stand out?

He stood out because He was more than just a human teacher who explained the Law to His students. He—and He alone—fulfilled the Law completely. He lived a sinless life so that His death could pay for our sin, not His sin. And no one who was simply a good teacher would make the claims about himself that Jesus did.

Jesus stood out because even if He had tried to manipulate circumstances to set Himself up as the fulfillment of prophecy, many of those fulfilled prophecies were outside of human control. From the circumstances surrounding His birth to the circumstances surrounding His death and burial, the prophecies could only have been fulfilled by the Messiah—the anointed One.

He stood out because no one who had lost their grasp of reality could have amassed the following He did while simultaneously confounding the religious elite of His day. Despite the multiple verbal traps set for Him, Jesus turned the tables on those who sought to trap Him, and instead trapped them with their own words.

Finally, Jesus stood out by claiming to be God and proving His claims to be true. In John 10:30, Jesus stated, “I and the Father are one.” Was that truly a claim to be God? His listeners took it that way and prepared to stone Him. Their reason? “You make yourself out to be God” (John 10:33). In the healing of the paralytic in Matthew 9, Jesus forgave his sins. Then He proved His authority to do so by healing the man in front of both friends and foes. And of course, the many miracles, including His own resurrection, validated His divinity and authority again and again.


Watchman Nee and C.S. Lewis


Watchman Nee, in his book, Normal Christian Faith, published in 1936 explained it this way:

“A person who claims to be God must belong to one of three categories: First, if he claims to be God and yet in fact is not, he has to be a madman or a lunatic. Second, if he is neither God nor a lunatic, he has to be a liar, deceiving others by his lie. Third, if he is neither of these, he must be God. You can only choose one of the three possibilities. If you do not believe that he is God, you have to consider him a madman. If you cannot take him for either of the two, you have to take him for a liar. There is no need for us to prove if Jesus of Nazareth is God or not. All we have to do is find out if He is a lunatic or a liar. If He is neither, He must be the Son of God.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, reached the same conclusion in 1942 when he wrote:

I am trying here 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. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. 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. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

Liar, lunatic, or Lord? What conclusion have you reached?

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1 Comment

  1. Nancy E. Head

    What a stellar job you’ve done, Ava. Wonderful apologetics here. Thanks and God bless!

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