Summary: Consider carefully the things Jesus said about Himself
Over the years I have heard many opinions about Jesus expressed by people who, at least in my presence and to my knowledge, have demonstrated no desire to put forth any effort to find out what is said or known – or can be known – about Him in any context outside of that opinion they hold to and give expression to.
There are those who, when the name of Jesus is put before them in any context other than a cuss word, will quickly put up a hand and say something along the lines of ‘I don’t want to hear it’. They simply do not want to know. If I were to presume to know their thoughts, which I cannot know, I would have to guess that they think of the name of Jesus as being connected to religion in general and they are generally against religion, so they won’t go there. Or perhaps they’ve had someone in their past who was so obnoxious with their attempts to bring that person around to their way of thinking about Jesus that now when they hear the name that is enough to make their blood pressure rise slightly and they don’t want to go there.
I suppose there could be any number of reasons people just ‘don’t want to hear it’. As I said, since they don’t want to talk, their motives can only be presumed unless they themselves want to offer further explanation. In any case, I can’t help those people.
In one of his songs, Ray Stevens said ‘there is none so blind as he who will not see’. He probably wasn’t the first to say that, but he was correct.
Then, at least in my own experience, there are the people – and I think this covers a very large percentage of unchurched, unbelieving folks at least in Western society today – who are loathe to offend but want to keep their distance, so they have adopted the politically correct posture that Jesus was a good man, some of them will go on to say ‘good teacher’ or ‘great teacher’, and some will even go so far as to elevate him to ‘one of the greatest people who ever lived’, but that is the extent of who or what Jesus was, in their opinion.
I was honored to have some quality discussion time over a brief period of several months a few years ago, with a woman who is Jewish by descent and practices her faith in her home and to the extent and degree that she can, as a person living in an area with a very small Jewish population and no access to a Synagogue.
In one of our discussions I asked her what or who she thought Jesus was. She said that as a young girl she was allowed to watch the TV mini series, “Jesus of Nazareth” in the 1970s. When she asked her mother what she was supposed to think of Jesus, being a Jewish girl, her mother told her that Jesus was a good man and a good Rabbi, and that is the opinion she has held to since.
As I said, I think this has risen like cream to the most popular of non-religious (or other religious) positions and opinions about Jesus in our time. I think the reason for this is that it usually gets someone out of having to talk further on the subject since very many Christians are also afraid of being offensive and will not want to pursue the topic to an uncomfortable level with a relative stranger.
Another reason is intuitive, I think; that if a person is self-convinced that Jesus was a good man and no more, then they have not unfairly judged someone else’s hero, and at the same time they have no more obligation to investigate or pursue him further than they would any other great historical figure who came, made his particular mark, then went the way of all flesh.
Any one of us can appear very open-minded and noble in revering Martin Luther King Jr. for who he was and all he accomplished, and we can do so in the safety and comfort of an air conditioned coffee shop, not having to fear that the police are going to knock us down with water from fire hoses or beat us with night-sticks or let their K9s chew on our calf muscles.
Now granted, there were those who were committed to the cause back in the 1960s who marched with King and paid the price. But there were a lot more who wished that black guy would go home and shut up, and obviously there were some who wanted him shut up forever.
So it was with Jesus. He had many followers while they thought He was who and what they expected Him to be. He had multitudes marching at His heels while He was healing them and miraculously feeding them.