John 7:11-13 : The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, “Where is he?” There was much murmuring among the multitudes concerning him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others said, “Not so, but he leads the multitude astray.” Yet no one spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews.
The things that the people said about Jesus back then are quite similar to the things that are said about Him today. Some say He “was a good man” or “a good teacher.” Others say that He mislead people. People still say quite a bit about Jesus and much of it really isn’t true. This is because Jesus was either who He said He was, or He was not. The trouble with trying to call Jesus “a good man” is that Jesus clearly claimed to be God. Listen to what C.S. Lewis said:
“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 the 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 with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952, p. 43)
Even my own relative, President William Howard Taft, tried ignore Jesus claim to deity:
“I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.” – President William Howard Taft (BrainyQuote.com)
Of course, I disagree with President Taft about this! I agree with C.S. Lewis, that President Taft was speaking foolishly as we are all capable of. If you pay attention to what Jesus actually said, you realize that the “misleading the people” idea shows more consistency than the “nice guy” idea even though both are clearly against what He said. Perhaps if God permits us time and energy to go through Matthew we will discuss Jesus’ moral teachings in more detail, but it is clear to me now that many of His moral teachings were not intended for those who didn’t first “believe on His name.”