He asks us one question that comes before all other questions:
“Who do you say that I am?” Mt 16:15.
C.S. Lewis explained in Mere Christianity: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.… But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” Lewis’ famous “trilemma,” that Rabbi Yeshua could only have been right, mad, or lying, focuses only on whether he was a divine person or a human person.
Lewis was right, Rabbi Yeshua could not have been a great human teacher. God had commanded: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” Ex 20:7. When Caiaphas, the high priest that year, asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Mk 14:61, Rabbi Yeshua replied, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” Mk 14:62. He is God’s Mashiakh, or he is not. It is a life-changing decision. If he is God’s Mashiakh, and if the effects of our actions up to now have been to suppress his witness in the world Acts 1:8, the time has come to transform our lives. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” Is 40:3.
Let us reflect on these three alternatives. In all of world history there is no other example of Almighty God becoming incarnate as a man to visit us. “With God all things are possible” Mt 19:26. Rabbi Yeshua told Rabbi Yokhanan‘s disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” Mt 11:4–5. God’s Mashiakh could do all these things, but no ordinary man could.
Apart from faith, based only on the contemporary historical record both from the Gospels and the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, the evidence warrants belief that Rabbi Yeshua was the Son of God. When we add subsequent evidence, the probability that Rabbi Yeshua is the Son of God rises to virtual certainty. His incarnate life was about 33 years. The first 30 years he spent privately with his Blessed Mother Mary and foster-father St. Joseph.
If Rabbi Yeshua was not the Son of God he was either mad or lying. A madman perhaps? Could a madman be so remarkably consistent with the Torah? The rabbis have traditionally considered the Shma the summary of all 613 mitzvot. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” Deut 6:5. The Torah also commands, “You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” Lev 19:18. When a Pharisee asked what was the greatest commandment in the Torah, Rabbi Yeshua declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
We can also rule out lying as a calculated strategy. Rabbi Yeshua told his shlikhim that he had to go to Jerusalem to be crucified Mk 10:32. He calmly brought upon himself the most painful punishment and death ever experienced by any man on earth. Pilate gave him every opportunity to defend himself. “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you”? Jn 19:10. Rabbi Yeshua‘s response, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin” Jn 19:11, looks calculated to increase the crowd’s already intense demand, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Jn 19:6. If Rabbi Yeshua had been an ordinary man he would not have risen from death Mt 28:5–6, and so he obviously did not go through all that to gain worldly prestige, wealth, or anything else that ordinary men lie about to gain.
The weekday Amidah asks for Mashiakh to come. Maimonides’ Twelfth Principle says that every Jew believes in the coming of Mashiakh. There has been Prophecy and Fulfillment. The Jewish soul hungers for God’s Mashiakh. When we point out Rabbi Yeshua, many Jews say, “His followers have been against us for two thousand years. How can you propose him to us as our redeemer?” Roy Schoeman responds on The Attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Jews from St. Paul to Pope Francis 51:50. He shows us Confirmation of Jesus in the Talmud 48:17. And he tells us of Notable Jewish Converts and the Gift of the Catholic Church. 1:22:59