“Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.” — Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s put-down of Sen. Dan Quayle, vice-presidential candidates debate, 1988.
So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. — John 5:16-18, NLT
I’m not sure if it’s a sign of insecurity or just a normal human pastime, but I find I often compare myself to other people. I’m not as bright as David, but I have a lot more sense than Bill. I don’t know as much about computers as Seth, but I’ve forgotten more than Chris has ever known.
And of course, I’m way more humble than Ernie.
It would be remarkable to be a Nobel laureate or a great stage actor or a renowned operatic tenor, but the plain truth of the matter is: I’m just average, one of the billions of ordinary people swelling the great center of the bell-curve.
Well, that’s not quite true. I’m a way better singer than Taylor Hicks. Better looking, too. I could be the next American Idol, I’m sure, but I couldn’t make myself grovel before Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul creeps me out. Randy Jackson’s ok, but why does he call everyone “dawg?” Can’t he remember their names for five minutes?
But, I digress.
According to the eye-witness account of John, the disciple, Jesus compared himself to God and the Jewish religious leaders popped a cork. Instead of taking it all back, Jesus threw gasoline on the fire — speaking anachronistically, of course. In the space of a mere 28 verses in chapter 5 of John, Jesus claimed:
- that God was his father;
- that he copied God in all that he did;
- that God had revealed himself to him;
- that his miraculous powers came from God, including the power of life;
- that God had given him the authority to judge sin, and to judge the dead;
- that he would be honored just as God is honored;
- that to dishonor him was to dishonor God;
- that he was perfectly just in all of his judgments;
- that John the Baptist had been testifying about him;
- that the Scriptures foretold his life and ministry.
That’s a lot of bragging.
John could be lying, of course, or high on whatever they smoked in the first century. The problem is the other biblical writers credit Jesus with the same sort of statements.
If John accurately recorded Jesus’ words, then C.S. Lewis was right to say:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said… would either be a lunatic — on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg — or 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. — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
If I compare myself favorably with Taylor Hicks, I’m probably guilty of hubris or vanity. If I compare myself favorably with God, the only word that really fits is megalomaniac, don’t you think?
But Jesus went well beyond mere comparisons. He claimed that he and God were partners. Buddies. God had shared his plans with Jesus. The two of them had divvied up responsibilities. He implied that they were alike in their natures, since Jesus expected to be around on the Day of Judgment sending people off to their eternal reward, or punishment.
Is it any wonder the religious leaders thought he was dangerous? In their eyes, Jesus was a liar, a blasphemer, and a false teacher who was leading innocent people astray.
It makes my fantasies about singing in front of thousands of screaming teen-agers seem pretty harmless.
Why, I could go around impersonating President Bush and be guilty of a lot less than Jesus.
Unless it’s all true. As we used to say when I was a kid: It ain’t bragging if you can do it. Was Jesus bragging? Was Jesus delusional? Was Jesus a liar?
Or was Jesus the Son of the eternal God?
Shortly before he made these claims, he healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Immediately afterwards, he fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 dried fish. Then, for an encore, he walked on water.
Pretty amazing stuff. It ain’t bragging if you can do it.
Photo credit: Taylor Hicks’ Fan Site