The most important questions that will ever be asked in this world are those regarding the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Who was he? What was his mission? Why did he die? Was he resurrected?
Jesus, himself, asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” Below you will find some of the answers that have been offered; many of the thoughts being far removed from what the Bible teaches.
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Greek Orthodox theologians say the main purpose of Jesus was to bring God and man closer, but not necessarily to die in that atoning way we’ve developed in the west. Their favorite image of Jesus is not the crucified figure, but the transfigured—when the divinity shines through him, rather like the image of the Buddha sitting under the Bo tree. This is the example of a deified humanity, which we shall all be like one day.
~ Karen Armstrong
I don’t think we know who Jesus was…. The gospel writers were creating a moral tale around a real man—they had their reasons. I realize much of what they wrote wasn’t literal history. I realize much of what we know about Jesus is novelistic. But I act as if it isn’t.
~ Peter A. Bien
We do, then, with all earnestness, through without reproaching our brethren, protest against the irrational and unscriptural doctrine of the Trinity. “To us” as to the apostle and the primitive Christians, “there is one God, even the Father.” With Jesus, we worship the Father, as the only living and true God. We are astonished, that any man can read the New Testament, and avoid the conviction, that the Father alone is God.
~ William Ellery Channing
I think you might say there’s never been an uninterpreted Jesus, even from the outset.
~ Harvey Cox
I see Jesus primarily as a teacher who speaks most eloquently to the heart, leading us to find our salvation in self-emptying, in love of neighbor, in humility, in forgiveness and in love to God. I see him neither as a revolutionary nor as a theologian, but rather as a radical ethical teacher who pointed out that the only way we would find ourselves was to recognize our own tears in the another’s eyes.
~ F. Forrester Church
Jesus is no different than many other claimed messiahs throughout history whose life history is ornamented with episodes that are miraculous, to draw our attention to his teachings.
~ F. Forrester Church
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Unitarian, was a spiritualist, as Jesus was. Emerson believed that Jesus was one deeply in touch with what Emerson called the “over soul.” He thought Jesus divine precisely to the extent that we are divine. The difference being: Jesus recognized it, and most of the rest of us don’t.
~ F. Forrester Church
Jesus was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material source of things, and found the spiritual cause.
~ Mary Baker Eddy
Had there been a lunatic asylum in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ would infallibly have been shut up in it at the outset of his public career. That interview with Satan on a pinnacle of the Temple would alone have damned him, and everything that happened after could have but confirmed the diagnosis.
~ Henry Havelock Ellis
So Mormons see God and Jesus as two separate beings. Smith saw them both with bodies like men, only in an exalted state. Exalted means that unlike humans who have the capacity to die, they were in a resurrected state and would live forever.
~ Jessie Embry
So we Mormons focus more on the life and the resurrected Christ, and see the atonement taking place in the Garden of Gethsemene, rather than on the cross.
~ Jessie Embry
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts of his divinity.
~ Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Ezra Styles, March 9, 1790
Jesus was a subversive sage whose witticisms tended to undermine the everyday view of things…. He was one of the greatest of Jewish sages, surely—in a category with other great sages of history, like Buddha or Socrates.
~ Robert Funk
Christ cannot possible have been a Jew. I don’t have to prove that scientifically. It is a fact.
~ Paul Joseph Goebbels
I believe that He [Jesus] is the answer to every individual’s search for meaning.
~ Billy Graham
I know that some people don’t think so, but I think Jesus was a feminist.
~ Susan Haskins
What Kazantzakis is saying in The Last Temptation of Christ, and what I am comfortable with, is that this is a human being growing up, not a unique Son of God. So there, Kazantzakis denies the divinity of Christ. But contradiction doesn’t bother Kazantzakis. He’s also saying that there is something divine in the world. And this divinity can be seen in, and understood through, Jesus. He is a model. The supreme model.
~ Peter A. Bien
Jesus is God. Deal with it.
~ Robert G. Lee
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 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.
~ C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity
A Saviour not quite God is a bridge broken at the farther end.
~ Dr. Handley Moule
If Socrates should enter the room, we would all rise and do him honor. But if Jesus Christ came into the room, we would all fall down and worship him.
~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Jesus is also called the Spirit of God, Ruh Allah. He is considered to be the greatest of the prophets before Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam.
~ Seyyed Hassein Nasr
Had he not existed, I doubt we would have had the gust to imagine him.
~ Bill Oberst
Everything he did, we can do too. A lot of people have gone through the same thing Jesus did, but Jesus is the most famous.
~ Sinead O’Connor
The value, for a Buddhist, comes not from proving whether he did exist. His significance lies in the lessons of the Jesus story. The scholar in me keeps going back to wondering if he existed, but as a Buddhist I say: values are more important than flesh-and-blood facts. If people say he existed, then he existed, because the lessons of the life that we are told about are important indeed.
~ Kevin R. O’Neil
Not only do we know God through Jesus Christ, we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ.
~ Blaise Pascal
If the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a god.
~ Jean Jacques Rousseau
I see Jesus as somebody who is just remarkably open to the reality of the divine presence in this world, so he becomes—for the average person—the incarnation of that divine presence. That’s what people say. Their experience was: when we meet Jesus, we meet God.
~ John Spong
The Ascended Masters—Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, others—were people like you and me. We are all evolving, we all have potential to be Ascended Masters one day. Everyone has a Christ self. These Ascended Masters developed that part of themselves better than anyone. We don’t see Jesus as God the creator, but—like Buddha, like Confucius—as a very great teacher, an avatar. The virgin birth? Absolutely not. No …. He was a man, and he became one with divinity. Walking around on Earth, challenged each day as a human—that’s a much harder thing than being God. Jesus sweats, he has great turmoil, he’s like us. The great point is: you could do what Jesus did…. If Jesus wasn’t the very best, he was one of the few. It’s like comparing Michael Jordan with Magic Johnson. They’re exemplars. In basketball, they’re worth emulating. For leading an exemplary life—Jesus.
~ Murray Steinman
Here was a revolutionary, a political dissident, forming far too strong a power base for the authorities to tolerate. Dying in his attempt to save the people from colonial oppression. Blasting the fig tree because it dared to be barren, casting out money lenders; kind of irritating, holier than thou, like a full-blown hippie, described long, long before the words or the concept “revolutionary” existed.
~ Fay Weldon