June 2, 2011

Brilliance Shines Brightly and Darkness Is Dull

"Jesus is not just nice, He was and is exceptional," wrote Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy. "He is the smartest man who ever lived.” Jesus didn’t just have good information He always had the right information…on everything, every time. Not just on the incidental things but also on the things that matter most to humanity. Jesus knew stuff…lots of stuff. He knew hope, love, life, relationship…eternity. He not only knew it, He was it.

In our U.S. culture today Jesus Christ is an afterthought in intellectual circles. The words, brilliance, intellectual and Jesus never show up on the lips of people in the same sentence. Usually we hear scoffing and snide insulting remarks about a diaper wearing wise man that wasn’t smart enough to keep Himself from being nailed to a Cross. These graceless jesters have no concept, no clue. Even those that are not intentionally insulting Jesus outright will not spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as well-informed, brilliant, or smart. Nor will they put Him in the company of Einstein, Newton, or the token rocket scientists of our world.

What causes this passé attitude and the complete apathy of the heart that causes the astonishing and instantaneous disregard of Jesus? We even find it in the day-to-day existence of multitudes of professing Christians. It is called a lack of respect for him. He is not seriously considered or presented as a person of great ability. Ancient teacher, sage, wise man, of course but divine, deity, supreme…no way.

Jesus knew how to suspend gravity and change constitution of water so to walk on it. He knew how to transmute the tissues of the human body from sickness to health and from death to life. Ahhh, nix that last one--He Himself entered physical death of His own freewill and volition. He died. Yet He lived beyond the grave. Frankly, I never saw Einstein, Newton, Galileo or anybody for that matter able to do the same thing. Just Him.

Jesus' contribution to the compendium of human knowledge through His ministry, in less than three years pushed the boundaries of the imagination. Jesus understood political science, psychology and sociology long before they had names. He understood the symbiotic and synergistic nature of empires, He understood the power structures of Rome. He understood and utilized ideas from agriculture and the natural world for parables and teaching. He embodied ethics and human relation.

He taught how a life of sacrifice produces an abundant yield of purposefulness and fulfillment. He was a skilled carpenter. He even taught fishermen a few things about fishing. He didn't take a class in meteorology but He calmed a storm. He didn't take a class in pharmacology but he healed hurting people and even taught his followers to heal. He didn't teach Socratic moral philosophy but He did forgive others and also gave us the ability to forgive. He didn't take a class on community organizing or a course on feeding the world but he brought the multitudes together and fed the them also.

Jesus was a Jack-of-All-Trades…and a Master of them all.

Jesus saw people who were ashamed and hiding…and He went to them. He humbled Himself and took on the attribute of being human. Jesus wept, Jesus hurt, Jesus was deeply moved in His Spirit when He saw humanity suffering…from the effects of sin. Yet He did not sin. Because humanity did sin and He did not, He took on their sins…so they could spend eternity with Himself and the Father. He trusted in the Father to do the right thing for the good of all…even while immobilized and held prisoner to the cross by three nails, slowly suffocating to death.

Dallas Willard once spoke with professors and graduate students at the faculty club on the topic 'The University and the Brilliance of Jesus’. A humanities professor approached Willard and said, “I'm confused. You, one of the world's prominent philosophers, believe in Jesus Christ as the hope of the world?”

To which Willard responded, “Who else did you have in mind?"

Sometimes the weightiest truths are stated in the lightest manner. Brilliant.

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