Have you noticed the times Jesus addresses an issue or disagreement with the phrase:
Matthew includes a number of these incidents in his Gospel. Jesus’ statement, “Haven’t you read…” implies an expectation that those who offer their opinion on matters about God, salvation and right conduct should be reading and familiar with the Scripture. Of course, why would we feel we have an opinion that is worth offering to others without being well versed in God’s Word from beginning to end?
Opinions are very freely offered by many in our society today, and often without feeling it is necessary to have solid background and credible facts. It seems that people feel they have the right to offer their opinion and that others are responsible to respect their opinion. But really, what is our opinion worth to others and even to God? I wonder how often I have used the phrase, or heard someone else say, “Well, I think…” to be followed with an opinion that can be based on anything from personal preferences, experiences, hearsay, or popular media, to study and research. Sometimes our opinion is simply a stubborn assumption. Other times we may casually fluctuate in our opinions with our changing experience or what we hear from others.
Jesus and the Sabbath
Matthew records an incident where Jesus asks religious leaders of the party of the Pharisees “Haven’t you read…” This was when they tried to start an argument with Jesus about permissible practices on the Sabbath day. At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1–2 (NIV).
We do not read of a lengthy argument ensuing as opinions went back and forth. The Gospels record no protracted discussions such as those between Job and his friends. Jesus simple response was to point to examples provided in Scripture. “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? Matthew 12:3–5. The Scripture settles the question for Jesus.
Jesus on Boisterous Worship
Another incident recorded by Matthew is after Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem riding on a colt on Palm Sunday. The crowds of his disciples enthusiastically hailed him as the Son of David. Jesus then proceeds to the temple courts where the excitement continued to build contributing to a very celebratory atmosphere. Sick people came in to be healed and the children were offering exuberant worship of Jesus as the Son of David. This aroused the indignation of the religious leaders! Apparently, and unfortunately, such activities were quite uncommon in this house of worship. Jesus replied to the religious leaders objections with, “Have you never read,
‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” Matthew 21:15–16 (NIV).
Once again this settles the matter for Jesus. To argue further is to argue with God!
Jesus Values the Scriptures and Learns from Teachers
Matthew records other examples where Jesus in the same way settles a question or dispute with the clear words of Scripture. I encourage you to check these out. What has led to Jesus’ confidence in God’s written word that he made the effort to become so knowledgeable of its truth and application? Luke 2:46 gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ character even as a child. When he was 12 years of age he spent three days at the temple while Mary and Joseph were looking for him. Luke writes that he was listening to the teachers and asking them questions. This seems like the best place to start with our learning about God and living for him in this world. Listening to those who have studied and obtained a well-rounded knowledge of God’s truth, with the evidence of a godly life. Also to engage in learning by asking thoughtful questions. The church has a prominent place for preaching where we listen. There is also a necessary place for teaching that provides the opportunity for asking relevant questions to gain understanding and skill in living for God.
Sometimes a thoughtful question
can contain more wisdom than a good opinion.
Listening and asking questions is especially important for children, youth and new believers; however, we should remember Jesus instruction that we be like little children; humbly ready to learn.
Are You Valuing God's Word?
During this pandemic we probably have more time than usual available to read and study Scripture. This is one of the most valuable uses of our time as followers of Jesus. If you’ve read the Gospel of John you may remember how Jesus told his disciples the Holy Spirit would remind them of his words after he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. To be reminded of something we first need to read, listen and consider the words and concepts to get them lodged in our memory. Without this attentive consideration of God’s Word it is like Jesus’ parable where the seed of the Word is sown by the pathway and the birds carry it away. To be reminded of God’s Words is a continued blessing for all who have received the promised Holy Spirit and hide the Word in our hearts, Psalm 119:11. The Holy Spirit is ready to remind us of Scripture we have studied and contemplated to help us in our decisions, understanding and conduct each and every day. Have you read your Bible lately?