Trilemma (18 Apr 2014)

It was C.S. Lewis, who in his book ‘Mere Christianity’, (something that he also referred to in a BBC radio talk), popularised the term – trilemma, in his robust defence of the divinity of Jesus.  This term is used to mean, ‘having to making a choice among three possibilities’. 

He asserts that we have to make one of three choices concerning the claims of Jesus that He says about Himself – that it makes Him out to be a liar, a lunatic or Lord.  Put differently, He must be Mad – A lunatic; Bad – A liar; or God – The Lord.

It is especially so on Good Friday, when our thoughts wander back in time, as we consider the string of pain Jesus went through –  spat with saliva, abused, beaten, stoned, slapped, nailed on the cross, wearing a crown of thorns on His head.  We pause in wonder, when we think of Him who ‘before Abraham was – I am’ (John 8:58), the same One, who existed from the beginning of time (John 1:1-2), dying the kind of death He went through – nailed on the cross to bear the sin of the whole world.    If Jesus was simply a good-for-nothing liar, would He have been so silly to lie and make all those absurd claims, and in the act of doing so, having to go through all those pain and suffering?  No, He was no liar.

Could He then have been a lunatic.  Possible?  Impossible!  When the Bible remarks that He grew up in wisdom, stature and in favour with God and men, all the historical records shows Him to be so.  Little children were drawn to him.  They sat at his feet.  Just listening to His teachings on the beatitudes marks Him out to be above average.

And when He taught at the synagogues, those who heard Him were astounded.  Mark 1:22 says, The people were amazed at his teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  John 7:15 says, The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” And John 7:46 records the words of Roman Soldiers, i.e. those who were not considered to be his ardent followers, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”  To harbour any suspicion that He might well be a lunatic, will stretch too much of a person’s imagination.  No, He was no lunatic.

There is only one option – He is Lord.  To think that this Lord went through it all, for sinners such as us, knowing full well the price He had to pay, is love beyond compare.

Thank God that what happened at the cross on that first Good Friday, did not end His life there.  This is but only half the story told.  Because after the crucifixion, came the resurrection, which saw the beginning of wonderful happenings.  Someone said it so well – .”When Christ uttered, ‘It is finished’, it is as if everything has just begun!” 

Thank God for Good Friday.   Borrowing from John Owen’s book in which he entitled as – ‘The death of death in the death of Christ,’ may the focussed thoughts on the death of Jesus, warm our hearts to come before God with gratitude and humility.  May we bow before Him with thanksgiving, even as put our thoughts to the pathways of sufferings that our Lord went through, just so that He might deliver us from the pit of eternal damnation.

Elder Richard Lai