Jesus is pretty much the most polarizing figure in all of human history. Nearly everybody knows about Him, what His followers say He said, and what He claimed to have done. Most people know more about Jesus than any other religious figure like the Buddha, or Zoroaster, or Muhammad. This, to me, seems to attest to something, though what that something is is up for debate.
But in spite of what we are told about Jesus, what are the possibilities of who He really was given our knowledge of Him? I would say we have three options. One, He was who He said He is, viz. God in the flesh, the Son part of the Trinity, the Messiah, and that He did miracles to show God’s glory, including defeating death for our salvation. Two, He was a lunatic that was off his rocker. He made claims, as many have, to be a god, yet like the others, failed to show it. Finally, He could have been the devil, or some demon, who wanted to lead people away from God, doing miracles in the name of the devil, rather than God. Interestingly, the Christians take the first view, many atheists take the second, and often Jews take the third. But notice, the Muslim view, and the popular view are not options! That is, that He was a good moral teacher, with good advice on how to live in harmony with others and how to be a good person, yet that He wasn’t who He said He was.
And that’s the problem. If we accept His moral sayings and life advice, which we find in the Bible, we must accept His other claims as well, which is that He is God, the Messiah, our Savior, etc. I don’t see anyway around this. Even the Jews seem to attest that He made such claims, since they denied His claims and said He was the devil or at least a demon working for the devil. You can’t say He was a great prophet, yet not accept His claims to divinity. You can’t say He was a good teacher, because He taught that He was the only way to heaven, and that He was God.
This is why I could never be a Muslim in the orthodox way. It is also why I could never be the naïve atheist and say that He had some good things to say but that He wasn’t really claiming to be divine. He did not leave those options open to us, and He did not mean to. He wanted to be polarizing, where you were on His side or against it, 100% either way. You can’t accept part of Him and leave the rest.
Where does that leave me? Well, a Christian right now, and probably forever. But I will never be an orthodox Muslim, or follower of the moral Jesus but not the God Jesus. Those options aren’t on the menu, and for some reason, people keep trying to order them anyway.