Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched.
Is it a theologian? A Scripture scholar? A powerful preacher?
Nope – it’s Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2.
“What is amazing is that Bono really hits the nail on the head. Over the past 200 years there has been a concerted effort to make Jesus “safe” for consumption. He is a nice guy, a great moral teacher, even a prophet. But nothing more. By relegating him to such categories we can handle him – we don’t need to change our lives because of him. But the life and teaching of Jesus doesn’t allow such a cop-out. A nice guy doesn’t get brutally killed at the instigation of a mob like Jesus did. Jesus claimed to be so much more than a simple prophet or moral teacher. He claimed, in ways both subtle and explicit, that he is the divine Son of God and the Savior of the world. Such a declaration demands a response from us. We cannot simply wave him off and go about our lives after encountering Jesus; we must act, either for him or against him.”