And there was considerable murmuring about [Jesus] in the crowds. Some said, "He is a good man," (while) others said, "No; on the contrary, he misleads the crowd" (John 7:12).
It sometimes surprises me how people I talk to acknowledge Jesus as a 'good man,' or even a prophet of God, and yet deride the idea that He is Almighty God in flesh.
It was the same way with the crowds gathered that day in Jerusalem. The people jostled between two opposing opinions: Jesus was a good man, or He was evil, who led others astray from the faith passed down from Abraham and Moses.
And the argument continues to this very day. Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists -- even atheists and agnostics with whom I've spoken -- admire Jesus as a good man who did a lot of nice works, but they never seem to question -- or bristle -- at the words Jesus said of Himself.
CS Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, argued the question this way:
"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 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."
Lewis adds: "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 up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Liar, Lunatic, or Almighty God and Lord.
If He is either of the first two choices, then nothing else we might say or think about Him really matters. But if He is neither liar nor lunatic, then how will the last -- and only other option open to us --affect our lifestyles and relationships?
We should be very careful how we answer, because our answer will determine our eternal destiny.