“Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent. (Luke 20:21-26)
There is no shortage of geniuses these days. We have so many people who are so smart about so much that we have to have 24/7 cable television to keep up with the flow of “expert” commentary. And, no doubt, we need experts. We need genius. We need people dedicating their lives to knowing all about medicine, and economics, and ecology, and science. Thank God for them. What we are sorely in need of, however, is impartial opinion. We need objective expertise. We need unbiased genius. And it is no easy task to find it. Genius? Yes – coming out of our ears. Objective truth? Fearless expertise? You won’t find it on cable, or in classrooms.
Jesus was so astonishing not because he was a genius; Solomon beat him to that title by a thousand years. Jesus astonished because he was an unbiased genius. No one ever found a way to get leverage on him. No one ever co-opted him for their political cause. No one put the fear of God in him to make him shade an opinion. He already had the fear of God in him. Everything he said and did was because of his absolute awareness of God as the primary reference point in all matters. That is what fear is: the thing that grasps our attention and bends our thoughts and actions around it. The little exercise of the Roman coin and the taxes is an example of Jesus’s genius, not simply because he could out think a few lawyers, but because he had only one basis for answering any question. He didn’t need to do political or economic or relational calculations in his head. He stood on the unshakeable ground of knowing God fully and trusting Him utterly and spoke objective truth. What the world needs now is more astonishing truth, not merely more shocking opinions.