01 February 2008

Mark 3 - Lord, Liar, Lunatic?

Many of us grew up being taught C. S. Lewis' famous argument for the deity of Jesus that he could not have been merely a "good teacher" - someone who said the kinds of things he said could only be one of three things: a lunatic and therefore insane, a liar and therefore evil, or Lord and therefore God incarnate. These are our only options.

I noticed that in Mark 3 we seem to have all three options presented to us as the readers.

In v. 11, the unclean spirits who see Jesus confess "You are the Son of God" (Lord).

In v. 21, Jesus has gone home and when a crowd gathers his own family decides, "He is out of his mind" (lunatic).

And in v. 22, the scribes assert, "He is possessed by Beelzebul" (liar/evil).

I recognize that since Lewis' time, and even the generation before, a fourth option was often taken: legend. Sure, some have said, if Jesus said the things the Gospels record, we was either a Lord, a liar, or a lunatic--if Jesus said the things the Gospels record. So in one sense this is far from a fool-proof argument.

Still, it makes the very important point that Jesus did not come merely to teach. As Pascal said, if Jesus came merely to teach, he has done nothing except erect a standard none of us can come anywhere near. But he did not come merely to teach, but to make us what he teaches we should be. His ministry is not only didactic; it is transformational. Not only external, but internal.

Finally, I note: his family got it wrong. The religious PhD's of the day got it wrong. The devils of hell got it right.

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