When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)
Relate: Here’s some unorthodox views of Jesus that you might find a bit startling. Or… one of these might be what you believe and what I personally would call orthodox is a view you are uneasy with.
1) The teenage Jesus left his homeland in Galilee and traveled through southern Asia. There he learned some yogic traditions and returned to become a guru to the Jews. When He says things like, “I and the Father are one”, Jesus is confirming the truth that everyone, through disciplined spiritual practice, can actualize their own universal god-consciousness. The Christian Bible in no way contradicts this since it says absolutely nothing about Jesus after his boyhood visit in the Temple until he began his public ministry at the age of thirty.
2) The humanity of Jesus is what is important. Put aside those dogmas of Jesus being God and when you read the gospels you see a man of great presence, energy, and compassion with significant psychic abilities. He has a gift for conveying profound truths using simple images and stories like how he slept in the boat as the storm raged around him are proof that he was a man who had moved beyond the mundane cares of the world. The buddha said, “Even if robbers were to attack you and saw off your limbs one by one, should you give way to anger, you would not be following my advice.” Jesus demonstrated this truth perfectly as, even while he hung on the cross, he said, “Forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”
3) Jesus was a prophet. he was a messenger of God sent to the children of Israel to bring a new set of scriptures. To aid in his ministry to the Jews God granted him the ability to perform miracles beyond that of any other prophet from that time since. Jesus only appeared to have been crucified but in reality, because of his submission to God, was raised up to heaven. He never did claim to be the Son of God or to be God and such scriptures putting those words in his mouth are a corruption of what he truly said. One day Jesus will return to the earth to restore justice and to defeat the false messiah.
4) Jesus needs to be rescued from the Bible. The earliest and most accurate picture of Jesus has no need for all the mythological miracles added to turn Jesus into something far more than he really was. Even more important than this, however is that Jesus actually taught that the way to heaven was through a difficult path or working to live a good life rather than an easy path of simply believing in a salvation provided by his death. It is the original apostles, not Paul and the revisionists who twisted everything to conform to his doctrine.
React: Each of these four views comes from writings representing a very large segment of our population. They are a paraphrase of 1) Hindu, 2) Buddhist, and 3) Islam. The fourth is disseminated from a website “Atheists for Jesus” and to one degree or another is representative of many liberal Christian, secularist, or atheist views. It is so easy for us, when presented with an opinion outside our box, to figuratively tear our clothes, throw dust in the air and start yelling like a Pharisee, “You were steeped in sin from birth. How dare you lecture us!” But Jesus Himself asked His disciples what others, not His disciples, had to say about Him. It is good for us to understand and learn what we can from as many sources as we can what people believe on this most important questions.
Respond: As good as that is, the most important question we can ask ourselves is who we say Jesus is. So, who is He? Who do you say He is?