If you’re a typical believer, you may be torn on how to answer this question. On the one hand, you believe that he was the Son of God and the Messiah, but on the other hand, he said some things that you just don’t believe are true when taken at face value. Let’s look at a few of those.
First, about his own inspiration, he said:
John 14:10 (New King James Version)
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
Indeed, a great many Christians believe this verbatim. But in the routine practice of the religion under traditional understandings of the Bible, there arise certain conflicts between the scriptures and the prevailing beliefs. One such point of contention is Jesus’ own prophecies about his imminent return. A study of his statements shows that he had in mind a return in that same generation. Here are a couple of passages showing this:
Matthew 16:28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Mark 14:62 “And you [the living high priest to whom he was speaking] will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Matthew 24:34 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
Obviously, though, most Christians do not believe that Jesus returned as promised in the very generation that was alive at the time of his first coming. What, then, shall be made of this? Was he wrong? Are the scriptures wrong? Are the translations wrong? Or are we wrong?
Interestingly, one of the most adored of all Christian writers, CS Lewis, was so certain of his own interpretation of scripture that he threw Jesus under the bus as embarrassing and delusional when it came to Jesus’ understanding of the timing of his return. (emphasis added)
“And, worse still, they had a reason, and one you will find very embarrassing. Their master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘This generation shall not pass till all these things be done. ‘ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”
CS Lewis ~ From his essay, The World’s Last Night. Buy it here.
By the way, Lewis’ error can further be witnessed easily in his choice of words “the end of the world”. He claims about Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 24 that it was about “the end of the world”. Thus, when the world showed itself still to exist in Lewis’ generation, the rash assumption was that Jesus was wrong.
So what have we got here? We have come to a fork in the road at which the Christian must either decide whether Jesus was wrong or whether the traditional understanding of one or more of these things is wrong. Of course, if one declares Jesus wrong, it is a wonder that anyone would continue thereafter to call himself a Christian—though a great many cognitive misers have done exactly this. And if one considers instead that the traditional understanding of these things must be wrong, then he can set out on the same road of investigation that has led to the Temporary Ekklesia Theory (TET). The TET is the only model of understanding I can imagine that keeps the religion credible and Jesus infallible while still operating wholly in reality. It is the only known theory that can explain the sad state of “the church” today, for if Jesus were still running it, and were still infallible, loving, and powerful, there is no way to explain why he is not tending to his ekklesia as he did in the beginning.
Responsible people must deal with this dilemma.