Wasn’t Jesus just a good man who got a little carried away with some of his words?
Undoubtedly, Jesus was a good man, but he was not just a good man. In fact, the New Testament goes beyond calling him a good man, speaking of him as a sinless man, without moral blemish (Hebrews 4:15). He was honest, decent, compassionate and loving, perfect in every way.
Amazingly, Jesus claimed to be sinless: On one occasion he asked a threatening crowd, “Which of you can convict me of sin?” (John 8:46). This question was not meant as a boast, but he was just telling the truth. Usually we think of good men as humble, never prideful, never thinking too much of themselves. Jesus’ claim sounds boastful to us because there are no perfect people. However, Jesus is the exception to this. Jesus’ claim of sinlessness, his righteous standing before God, moves him beyond being a good man – he is God in human flesh.
According to the writer of Hebrews, Jesus was more than sinless – he was perfect (4:15; 7:26).
God made Christ “perfect through suffering” so that he could bring “many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
Once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9).
Perfection is an attribute of God alone. No other being can be said to be perfect. Yet human beings are called to mimic the Creator and strive toward perfection. Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). It is a good thing that he did not ask us to do something that he did not do himself. Jesus was perfect, just as the Heavenly Father is perfect.
Therefore, when people say that Jesus was just a good man, they are mistaken. He was much more. He was sinless and perfect. The biblical teaching about Jesus says he was the Son of God, who took on human nature, lived a perfect life, died a horrific death and was resurrected from the grave. His death served as a substitute payment for our sins. Thus, saying that Jesus was just a good man does not do justice to his unique life and his divine identity.
For many, the biblical portrait of Jesus as God incarnate is so inconceivable that other explanations are sought to make sense of the events that happened in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Cynics deny Jesus’ distinctiveness and pay lip service only to his ethical teachings. They see him as just a good man, just a good moral example. However, this is a mistaken opinion that reflects human stubbornness in the face of the biblical evidence that clearly exhibits Jesus as much more than a good man.