Description: Liar, lunatic legend arguments continued
What is the Meaning of Life?
Jesus: Lunatic, Myth or Son of God?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of this life of ours? I mean, why are you alive? What’s your life for? What is the purpose
of it? Where are you going to? That’s the kind of question we’ve been talking about on this program for
several months now.
What we’ve concluded is that the only one who can give an authoritative answer to that is somebody from
outside this life — somebody who is outside of this closed universe in which we seem to find ourselves,
someone who has come from outer space, or someone who has some kind of knowledge that is real of the Supreme
Being, or the Force, or the Power, or whatever it is that originated this whole world and this whole universe
and created you and me.
What we’ve been sharing, as you know, is that many human beings have claimed to tell us what it is all
supposed to be in aid of, but we’ve had to admit that all of them were just like ourselves. They were just
human beings. They were born here, died here and they never left the earth, as far as we are able to tell.
In fact, there’s only one human being that has given any evidence that he left the earth and came back again,
and that he had any remarkable relationship with the Supreme Being behind the universe. That is the person
that is known as Jesus of Nazareth.
You remember, we’ve shared how his historicity is established, because of the carefully documented records
that we have in the last quarter of the book that we know as The Bible. It’s documented carefully by
manuscript evidence that is superior to any we have for the existence of any of the other ancient figures like
Julius Caesar, or Plato or Thucydides. It is more carefully reinforced and more fully substantiated than any
other history of the time. What we have been saying is that this amazing man seems to have a remarkable and
unique relationship with the Maker of our world.
If you say to me, “Why do you say that?” Well, for one thing, he talked like the Son of God. Of course, what
we said is that many people talk like the Son of God. Many people claim to be the Son of God (and they’re all
in psyche wards and asylums). But this man has no evidence of imbalance in his own life. He does not live like
a lunatic. He does not behave like a lunatic.
He is regarded by all of us as the picture of the balanced, sane human being. He is looked up to as an example
to follow. He is passed on by teachers to their pupils as the one whom they should imitate in their life
pattern. So, he talked as if he was the Son of God, but he did not live like a lunatic. So, you can’t just
say, “Oh, he was a lunatic; he was a crazy man.” He didn’t live like a crazy man.
Well, maybe he was a liar? Maybe he just thought if he was the Son of God that he’d gain more fame and
popularity for his teaching. But you can see that there is a deep ethical and logical impossibility in that
statement, because we regard him universally as the highest ethical and moral teacher the world has ever seen.
We also regard him as the foremost example of his own moral teaching.
Then, it’s impossible to say that at the central point of his teaching, in the most important claim he made,
(that is, that he was the Son of God), in the most important statement that he made (that is, about his own
identity), he lied. It’s a logical impossibility. It makes foolishness of our logic. It makes foolishness of
every believer and non-believer, every skeptic and cynic, many of whom admire his moral life and his ethical
It is impossible to say, “But at the central point of his teaching he was a liar.” It just makes foolishness
of our language and our logic. Was Jesus a lunatic? He did not act like a lunatic. He did not talk like a
lunatic. Was he a liar? He did not tell lies about any of the rest of the things in his life.
Indeed, when a lie would have saved him from crucifixion, he did not lie. No, he wasn’t a liar. Was he a
legend, then? Could he have been an ordinary, good man who was lionized by his followers after his death? That
happened to Buddha. Nothing was written about Buddha for about 500 years after his death. Then, all kinds of
legends were circulated about him which by then could not be proven or disproven.
Now, maybe that’s the same situation with Jesus. Maybe he was just an ordinary man, and his disciples gained a
great respect for him. Then, they thought, “Well, he must be remarkable; maybe we should make him out to be
the Son of God.” Or, perhaps they just talked about him in such terms of respect that gradually people began
to regard him as divine. That is the difficulty about this theory in regard to Jesus.
That is, a legend takes time to develop. It takes time to develop. That’s what it had in regard to Buddha.
There were 500 years which passed by during which no one wrote anything about him. During those 500 years all
kinds of myths and stories and imaginary tales were created about him. There was no one during those years
that could disprove him. So, the legend gradually grew. A legend requires time to develop.
Now, all the people, for instance, who saw Kennedy shot have to be long dead and all contemporary records have
to be lost before imaginary stories can gain credence and acceptance. This kind of time does not exist in the
case of John Kennedy. So, you don’t have legends about John F. Kennedy’s death.
There was not a great passage of time before the records appeared about his death and about Lee Harvey Oswald
killing him in Dallas. A legend could not grow up. The historical records occurred the same afternoon the
death occurred. There was no possibility of all the eyewitnesses dying out and imaginary stories being created
that nobody could contradict.
That kind of time does not exist in the case of Jesus of Nazareth. By 48 A.D. the Letter to the Galatians (one
of the books in the New Testament, which is the last quarter of the book that we call the Bible), which tells
about his life and his death, was circulating throughout the then-known world. Now that was 48 A.D.
Now, do you see that that is a mere 20 years after Jesus was crucified? He was crucified in 29 A.D. This
account of his death was circulating by 48 A.D. It was circulating round all the towns of Palestine. Anybody
trying to circulate a legend about Kennedy in 1984, or in 1986 would have to face thousands of us who were
alive when he was actually killed. We would just contradict any legends.
It’s the same with Jesus. Thousands of people who had seen the crucifixion in Jerusalem were alive when
accounts of his life were already being read and studied. So, it’s impossible to say he was a legend. A young
man of 20, who was alive at the time Jesus was crucified, would only be 40 in the year 48 A.D. He would be
perhaps 40-50 years of age at the most.
There were many such men, many such women. All they had to do was say, “Look, this story about this man rising
from the dead isn’t true. I was there. I was in Jerusalem at that time and he didn’t rise from the dead. This
is just a legend.” But, in fact, they didn’t do that. They corroborated the story. They corroborated the
Was Jesus a legend? No! There wasn’t time for imaginary stories to develop to make him a legend. If Jesus is
not a lunatic, and he is not a liar and he is not a legend, there is only one possibility left. Jesus of
Nazareth really did exist and lived the life that the Bible and other contemporary historical records describe
in such detail.
This man Jesus actually existed. This life occurred on our planet 1900 years ago.