It’s really a good question and one that I hadn’t considered until encountering Dallas Willard’s masterpiece The Divine Conspiracy in college. I had not thought about it in a while until Dr. Todd Hunter came to guest-teach at our church this Sunday. He was making the basic point that unless we actually consider Jesus to be a competent instructor about life and reality, we will never actually listen to him and follow him. This called to mind one of my favorite passages in The Divine Conspiracy where Willard calls our attention to the simple fact that Jesus is really smart:
Our commitment to Jesus can stand on no other foundation than a recognition that he is the one who knows the truth about our lives and our universe. It is not possible to trust Jesus, or anyone else, in matters where we do not believe him to be competent. We cannot pray for this help and rely on his collaboration in dealing with real-life matter we suspect might defeat his knowledge or abilities.
And can we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if he were not smart? If he were divine, would he be dumb? Or uninformed? Once you stop to think about it, how could he be what we take him to be in all other respects and not be the best-informed and most intelligent person of all, the smartest person who ever lived?
That is exactly how his earliest apprentices in kingdom living thought of him. He was not regarded as, perhaps, a magician, who only knew “the right words” to get results without understanding or who could effectively manipulate appearances. Rather, he was accepted as the ultimate scientist, craftsman and artist.
The biblical and continuing vision of Jesus was of one who made all of reality and kept it working, literally, “holding together” (Col 1:17). And today we think people are smart who make light bulbs and computer chips and rockets out of “stuff” already provided! He made “the stuff”!
Small wonder, then, that the first Christians thought he held within himself, “all of the treasure of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). This confidence in his intellectual greatness is the basis of the radicalism of Christ-following in relation to the human order. It sees Jesus now living beyond death as “the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth…the first and the last, the living One, ” the one who can say “I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever more, the master of death and the world of the dead” (Rev. 1:5, 18)…
He is not just nice, he is brilliant. He is the smartest man who ever lived. He is now supervising the entire course of world history (Rev 1:5) while simultaneously preparing the rest of the universe for our future role in it (John 14:2). He always has the best information on everything and certainly also on the things that matter most in human life.
The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God, pp. 94-95
When considering this reality, the fact that Jesus is the all-competent Lord of the universe who holds all things together, it has to strikes us that he must be absolutely, colossally wise, and an excellent guide into the reality of all things. In which case, we have to ask ourselves, why don’t we listen to him more often? Why is it that of all the places to go for an opinion, a point of view, sound advice on any and all questions concerning my relationships, my family, my work-stresses, my finances, I always seem to come to Jesus last? What are the areas that I seem to act like I know more than he does? “Well, Jesus, that’s a nice thought, but you see, my situation is a little different than what you were talking about in your sermons…” Really? Honestly? Jesus is God, but he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about when it’s your life, because you’re so special? Hmm….
This is where the rubber hits the road. Do I really trust Jesus as Lord or don’t I? If I trust him with my death, I ought to be able to trust him with my life. Even more to the point, if I don’t trust him with my life, am I really trusting him with my death?
Friends, we can trust Jesus. He won’t let us don’t or lead us astray. He knows what he’s talking about–he’s really smart.
Soli Deo Gloria