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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Accusations Against Jesus Answered

Don Stewart :: Is It Possible That Jesus Was Only a Great Prophet?

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Is It Possible That Jesus Was Only a Great Prophet?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 21

From Scripture, we discover that Jesus made a number of fantastic claims about Himself. If Jesus actually made the claims attributed to Him in Scripture, and He was not a liar or insane, then what are we to make of them?

There are those who attempt to sidestep the issue of Jesus’ claims. They contend that He was not God, but neither was He lying or deranged. They usually place Him in the category of a great teacher, perhaps the greatest teacher who ever lived. Some go as far as calling Him a prophet. But they deny He was anything more. They deny that He is God.

It Is Not a Possibility

The possibility that Jesus was only a great teacher or a great prophet does not really exist. He very clearly claimed to be more than that. Indeed, we read the following words between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day:

Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” (John 10:32, 33 NKJV)

Jesus made Himself out to be equal with God. These leaders understood His claims. This is why they wanted to put Him to death.

At the grave of His dead friend Lazarus, Jesus made a number of monumental claims about Himself. We read the following:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26 NRSV)

Jesus claimed to be the resurrection and the life! He said those who believe in Him will still live even after their death. These are not the claims of a mere prophet or great teacher. Indeed, they go way beyond this.

Only Two Choices about Jesus Are Available

Basically human beings are left with two, and only two, choices about deciding the true identity of Jesus Christ. They can be simply stated as follows.

Option 1: Madman or Liar

Jesus Christ clearly claimed to be God and Savior, the resurrection and the life, as well as the only hope of salvation for the human race. If He was not whom He claimed to be then He was either a liar or a madman. There is no third choice. Indeed, He either knew that He was none of these things, making Him a liar, or perhaps He truly believed what He said about Himself, making Him a lunatic.

Thus, if His claims were not true, there is no possibility that He was a great prophet. A great prophet would not lie about who he is neither would he be insane. Therefore the option of making Jesus a great prophet or some outstanding teacher is not really an option. His specific claims about who He was and why He came to this earth do not allow us to do this.

Option 2: Lord

There is one more possibility. His claims were true. This means Jesus Christ is Lord of all. If Jesus Christ is this One whom He claimed to be, then He should be worshiped as God and His teachings diligently followed.

The choice is simple. Jesus is either Lord of all or not Lord at all! There is no middle ground.

Summary – Question 21
Is It Possible That Jesus Was Only a Great Prophet?

Many people who do not believe in Jesus Christ still feel uncomfortable calling Him a liar or a lunatic. Instead they say that He was a great prophet or a great teacher but not the Son of God. In this way they can acknowledge the greatness of Jesus without admitting to the idea that He was anything more than human. This, they believe, recognizes Jesus’ contributions to our world but also relieves them of any personal responsibility toward Him.

However, when we examine Jesus’ claims, as recorded in the New Testament, we find that this is not an option. He claimed such things as being the One who can give life to the dead, the Savior of the world, God the Son, and the One who will judge all humanity on the last day. These are not the claims of a mere teacher or prophet!

If Jesus Christ was none of these things which He claimed about Himself and His mission, then He was either a liar or lunatic. Indeed, Jesus either knew these claims He made were not true, in which case He would be a liar, or He actually believed what He said about Himself. This would make Jesus a madman. In either case, He cannot be considered a great prophet or a great teacher.

There is, however, one final possibility. His claims were true! Jesus Christ is everything which He claimed to be. As we look at the totality of the evidence we will discover that this is the only option that explains all the fact.

In sum, if the claims of Jesus Christ are false, then He should be ignored or detested. If His claims are true, then He should be worshipped as Lord and God. He cannot be merely viewed as a great prophet. He did not leave that option for us.

Is It Possible That Jesus Was Insane? ← Prior Section
What Should We Conclude about the Various Inadequate Views about Jesus and His Ministry? Next Section →
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