Jesus knew how to make people squirm … and He wasn’t afraid to do it on occasion. I suspect that this was one of the reasons why people enjoyed listening to him.
On one particular occasion (Mark 12:28-37), some haughty scribes realized that Jesus was in the temple complex (they believed to be their “home court advantage”). They suspected that they could corner Him in a theological conundrum. They decided to ask Him to provide an answer to a question that had probably been a source of contention among them for a long time. Their question? “What is the greatest commandment?” That would have been an impossible question to answer because there were hundreds and hundreds of laws on the books. The religious leaders knew of the endless laws because they were the ones who had added most of them. However, He verbally nailed them with a decisive, cogent answer and “the large crowd was listening to Him with delight” (Mark 12:37).
On a few other occasions, Jesus made some folks squirm by asking a very specific question. Read these next few verses:
Matthew 12:2-3 “But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!’ He said to them, ‘Haven’t you read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry…’”
Matthew 19:3-4 “Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ He replied, ‘that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female’…”
Matthew 21:42 (While at the temple with the religious leaders and a growing crowd): “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes?’”
Matthew 22:23, 31-32 “The same day some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came up to Him and questioned Him: … (Jesus replied: ) ‘Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’”
It was as if Jesus, who the religious leaders were trying to corner, would play their own game and corner them. If front of everyone, since the religious leaders had chosen a public setting to try to embarass Jesus, He asked them, “Haven’t you even been reading your Bibles?! Does any of it ever sink in?!” And then He gave a relevant Scripture that settled the issue.
Jesus was obviously frustrated that folks who should have known the Scriptures were ignorant of its truths. They had read the Scriptures but they had never allowed it’s truths to sink in so that they could easily and accurately apply it. Over and over, He looked these folks in the eye and said: “Haven’t you read your Bibles?”
Jesus had the integrity to ask this question because He knew God’s Word. At the age of 12, he was able to engage in coherent discussion with the knowledgeable religious leaders of his day (Luke 2:46-47). Now, some would say, “Well, I sure wish that I could have been like Jesus. He didn’t have to read the Scriptures to learn it. It just came natural to Him because He was God.” Not true (on the FIRST part of that statement). He had to read God’s Word and learn it, too. How else could He “grow in wisdom” (Luke 2:52). You don’t have to grow if you’re already mature. Jesus read and studied God’s Word and so should we.
Now, imagine that Jesus is looking you in the eyes as He asks, “Have you read God’s Word today?” Are you squirming or would you be able to talk about what you read in His Word this day?