For nearly 2,000 years, people have debated and discussed the issue of who Jesus of Nazareth was. Some have said that He was just one of several unimportant sons of an insignificant carpenter. Others say that He was, in fact, a good teacher and a good man who did help people and was able to acquire many followers. Then, there are those who claim that Jesus was a fraud, a rebel or even a deranged mad man. However, since His life and death, there have been countless numbers who have put their eternal lives at stake by believing in Him and worshiping Him as God. Why is there such a dilemma on the identity of this man? C.S. Lewis wrote what he called a “trilemma” of possibilities to answer that question. He said that Jesus is either “lunatic, liar or Lord.”
If Jesus was a lunatic, meaning that He had some sort of mental problem that caused Him to hear certain things and ultimately believe certain factors of who He was, that very well could explain why He said and did some of the things we have recorded in the New Testament. In fact, He was even accused by His own townspeople and family as having “lost His senses,” and by the scribes from Jerusalem as being influenced by demons (Mark 3:21-22). Is this true, or was it a misunderstanding?
If Jesus was a liar, then He was guilty of intentionally misleading people and creating a false religion. Standing before Caiaphas, the chief priests and Sanhedrin were trying to catch Jesus in a lie in order to kill Him. Finally, when asked by the high priest to answer the claims that He was the “Christ, the Son of God,” Jesus’ response caused Caiaphas to accuse Him of “blasphemy,” and they spit in His face, beat Him and sentenced Him to death (Matthew 26:59-67).
If, however, Jesus was Lord, then the ramifications are greatly different for us today. Jesus’ own disciple Thomas wavered in his faith after the crucifixion. That faith was restored when He saw the resurrected Jesus first hand, and he said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:27). Thomas accepted Jesus as Lord. But what does the rest of Scripture say and show us about Jesus? Was he God or just a fraud? The answer could impact eternity.