I heard a news broadcaster refer to the “philosophy of Jesus” while calling him a “good teacher.” I personally do think Jesus was and is a good teacher, but the philosophy bit didn’t sit as well with me. No Christian would dumb down what Christ said as mere philosophy, at least I hope not. It was prophecy; the words of God almighty which he spoke. His way of life was not based upon a critical study of how humanity should conduct itself. It was the product of being fully divine and knowing the will of God for God’s people. Jesus is Christ. He is the Messiah, the Savior, the Chosen One of God. Perhaps the existence of so many other influential and world changing religious figures serves to cloud the precise nature of Jesus for many.
(Image courtesy of centerpointecma.com)
Christians who strive to engage in a cross religious conversation can find themselves struggling to speak about Jesus in terms that do not convict other religions or offend their practitioners. We look for common ground and are willing to see that Jesus too was a prophet in some ways, a teacher in others. Jesus wasn’t looking to show people a new way to live in philosophical terms. He was trying to stress the dire need and the urgency for relationship with our God. Just how did Jesus know so much about this anyway? It wasn’t because he received divine revelation as Muhammad did; he is God, so he knows who God is and what God wants. Christ didn’t just give was a new way to live, a new way to be. He restored our identity which is centered upon our relationship with God, our creator.
Jesus’ resume would be long and quite exhaustive, but the most telling factor would be his prime title: God. He stood before the high priest and all the chief priests after his arrest. They questioned Jesus and asked him if he was the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One. Jesus said, “I am” (Mark 14:62). He wasn’t just saying I am who you say I am. He told them exactly who he was in terms they should have understood and recognized. He used the same title God used with Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14). Jesus claims the divine name as his own, and the religious class doesn’t get it. Unfortunately, that trend continues today. Many do not understand who Jesus is. They look at him historically, searching for a resume that will put it plainly and rationally. It’s not rational. It’s not rational that the God most high, the maker and creator of all life on this earth and the world itself would humbly walk among us as a human being in order to die for us. That’s not a philosophy or a teaching for enlightenment. That’s the truth.