Consider the questionable actions of a few major religious leaders, even though they were generally considered to be good people:
•Moses, one of the main leadership figures in Judaism, murdered an Egyptian.2
•Muhammad, the founder of Islam, reportedly killed many who disagreed with him.3
•Krishna, of the Hindu faith, allegedly murdered his uncle.4
•Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, abandoned his wife and son to achieve “enlightenment.”5
But even in the Bible, murder6 and abandonment7 are sometimes condoned or even encouraged. So how can Jesus be different from the above if the teachings about him seem to include approval of this type of behavior?
Well, regardless of the reasons for actions like these, all religious leaders have said it is best to avoid this behavior. But only Jesus actually did that.
A Different Message
Then there is Jesus’ unique teaching. While other religious leaders pointed toward some other person or entity for inspiration, Jesus pointed to himself and claimed to be God in bodily form.10
Muhammad confessed to being only a man and directed people to Allah.11 Buddha never claimed the ability to save people himself but pointed them to the Noble Eightfold Path that saves.12
But Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”13 He did not profess to show people merely the way to salvation, but asserted that he himself is salvation.
Jesus made many other unique claims: He claimed not to be from this world but from heaven.14 He claimed to preexist Abraham, a man who had lived over 1,800 years before Jesus.15 He claimed to be “one” with God, which was recognized by the Jews as a claim of divinity.16
No other religious leaders to date have made such bold, radical, and—some would say—crazy statements about themselves.
Life After Death?
Yet undoubtedly, the most important—and odd—distinguisher between Jesus and all other religious leaders is his alleged resurrection. Both Buddha and Muhammad got sick and died. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was shot and killed.
Every other religious leader in history has died—and remained dead. No one claims otherwise about those leaders, not even their followers.
When it comes to Jesus, however, the message is different. The followers of Jesus throughout the centuries have claimed that after his crucifixion, Jesus conquered death and was made alive again.
Philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig offers four lines of