There is one book I find myself rereading at least once every year: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The theological philosophy Lewis lays out is Biblically sound, plainly put, and formational.
When I pick up the book I am especially struck by Lewis’ handling of the idea that Jesus was just a good teacher. This labeling has given culture a way to handle the Bible as they wish, upholding the words of Jesus as advisable without having any solid moral backing to enforce them.
But, as Lewis so bluntly stated, “[L]et us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his [Jesus] being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (pg. 52)”
A key example from Scripture is Jesus’ forgiveness of sins. If Jesus was simply a good teacher, he would have encouraged going straight to the people one had wronged in order to ask for forgiveness. And, while it is certainly encouraged that we apologize and ask for forgiveness from those we wrong, that is not the thing Jesus first told sinners he encountered.
Instead, he told them that HE forgave them. This is an easy point to brush over when we open our Bibles, but it truly is pivotal in how we think of Jesus. Lewis explained:
“But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? …this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if he was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if he really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. (pgs. 51-52)”
Such radical claims of forgiveness could never come from a good teacher – if he was just a man, this boldness would be enough for us to reject the idea that he was actually ‘good.’ No, to make such claims you either had to be insane enough to believe them yourself or be sure that you had the power to keep your promise.
Lewis concluded, “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. (pg. 52)”
You can reject all the Bible has to say and refer to Jesus as a lunatic. You can worship him as the Savior the Bible shows him to be. The one thing we can’t do is halfheartedly adhere to what he taught by calling him just a good teacher. That option has never been on the table.
Featured photo is of C.S. Lewis