Numerous centuries have brought, seemingly from the dust, men and women who have found purpose to lead men to what they believed to be the truth; this has led to the development of religions, philosophies, and general ideals of every flavor. Among the teachers of the world, though, few could ever be said to have had as great of an impact as the one, Jesus of Nazareth. This man taught us how to live and interact with others, leading to what could bring peace and unity to all men. More than this, he stands at the highest of them all because it is through this man that we have the largest religion on the face of this earth.
Ever hear something like that before? If I had a penny for every time I have heard it, I would have about $15. Well, I dunno, it doesn’t really matter, but the claim about Jesus is interesting. Dare we entertain the thought that Jesus was just a teacher, albeit a good one?
For being accepted as one of many in a collection of good and wise teachers worth paying attention to, Jesus certainly made exclusive claims that separate Him from every other teacher. More than this, many of His own claims referred to His own godhood (Mt. 9:1-8; Jn. 8:58). The matter of Jesus being a good teacher, though, can be wrapped up in two challenges:
To start, Jesus taught that He alone is the only way, the only truth, the only life (Jn 14:6). Furthermore, He adds that He alone is the only way to the Father, which means to say that there is “no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Secondly, Jesus made it perfectly clear that He expected to be resurrected after dying as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28; Mk 9:31). This had the opportunity to be squashed from the get-go because a body was something that could have been provided to disprove the claim and a small band of fearful disciples was not enough to get past the Roman soldiers posted outside of the tomb.
These two points demand that a side is chosen. If Jesus was incorrect and He is not the only way, truth, and life and, more so, did not rise from the dead, then He is most certainly not a “good teacher”; instead, if Jesus taught as such and was not correct, He would be a liar. If, however, Jesus truly did rise from the dead, then we can trust everything else He taught. The death and resurrection is the central point of both the purpose as to why He came and our very faith and the resurrection, if true, instantly validates everything else He taught. If it instantly validates everything else He taught, then to merely hold Him as a “good teacher” among other “good teachers” is to ignore the dire warnings He made to all who would not believe in Him as the sole propitiation for our desperate and rotten condition of sinfulness.
These challenges must be overcome and cannot be, even if they could have been overcome, though, Jesus does not become a good teacher because of it, but a liar. No, this is irrelevant, because the resurrection itself or, more specifically, the empty tomb had every opportunity in the world to be disproven and the budding church went through every opportunity to be crushed before it got too large. In addition to this, we also face the trouble with explaining the men who, after originally being fearful of the Jewish zealots killing them as well, left their isolation with confidence in their message and faith. These same men left their lives of desperate fear of death to courageously facing the death that came to each one of them at the hands of their persecutors. No man goes for decades teaching and willingly dying for what they know to be false and the disciples’ lives testify to a significant event occurring at a time in which they were so unsure and fearful, giving them confidence to pour their whole lives into something that would lead to mortal persecution. Room has not been left for Jesus to be considered a good teacher, but a liar or the only and essential Savior.