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Lunatic, Liar, or Lord?

December 5, 2016

Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.’” Matthew 11:4-5

Jewish prophecies about the Messiah were handed down from generation to generation and recorded by scribes. The book of Isaiah referenced current events but also foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah. It is believed that Isaiah wrote it between 700 and 681 B. C. This week’s texts[1] include some of those predictions and references to them in the New Testament as Jesus was beginning his ministry.

Matthew reports “When John heard in prison about the deeds of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” Jesus confirmed to John that he was the one who the prophet Isaiah described: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:2-5, Isaiah 5-6).

Jesus spoke to the crowd about John, referring to him as his messenger and quoting Malachi: “What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one of whom it is written, ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:9-10; Malachi 3:1).

C.S. Lewis puts to rest any doubts we may have regarding who Jesus was. Jesus was not merely a prophet and great teacher. He points out that it is illogical to accept Jesus as “a great moral teacher . . . [but not] His claim to be God . . . That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. 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. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.” (Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity, HarperOne 1952, p. 52, Bk. II, Ch. 3, “The Shocking Alternative.”)

Since Jesus Christ died, there have been countless prophecies regarding his return and the end of the world. In the months leading up to an end of the world prophecy on May 21, 2011, a man spoke every week during the public comment period of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors’ meeting to warn people of Jesus’ second coming.  All of these predictions have been wrong. Jesus warned that there would be false prophets (Matthew 24: 24). James tells us in the epistle lesson to be patient: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.” (James 5:7).

The only prophecies that have stood the test of time are those revealed in sacred Scripture. At the end of his ministry, Jesus talked to his followers about his return. He described it as an event that would be so unmistakable that everyone would know what it was; the sky would grow dark, the moon and the stars will be affected, and unbelievers in all countries will mourn when they see Jesus in the sky, because they will immediately realize their mistake. Scripture tells us that we don’t know the time when he will come again: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36; see also Mark 13:32).   Finally, Jesus echoes the scout motto: Be Prepared. “You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44).

You may have been on the fence or indifferent to the question of God’s existence and even questioned the significance of the question to your everyday life. But faced with the evidence that Christ walked the earth and was who he said he was, you need to hop off the fence and make a decision. Will you call him a lunatic, liar, or Lord? It is time to make a decision for Christ. There is no other logical choice.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Third Sunday in Advent are Psalm 146; Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5: 7-11; Matthew 11: 2-15.

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