The Shocking Alternative (conclusion)

A couple weeks ago I ran a column taken mostly from C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity—a bit about the claims and identity of Jesus. Let’s pick it up again and finish the quote:

“We can all understand how a man forgives offenses against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you; you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announces that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the proper party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history….

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept 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 a man who said 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 with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”