It is hard for us to appreciate how the Pharisees must have felt when Jesus asked them, ‘‘Have you never read . . ?’’ These men prided themselves on their knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures. They probably had most of the scriptures memorized. They were the teachers and spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel. And here was this radical young man who had been stirring up trouble all over Israel daring to challenge them, all but calling them ignorant of the Word of God to which they had dedicated their lives. He was practically treating them like spiritual idiots, not like the high and holy men that they were. What an outrage! To say that Jesus quietly and humbly pointed out their wrongs would be quite inaccurate. Jesus knew their prideful hearts and he purposely used words designed to deflate their over-inflated self-images and stir them up.
Jesus was an unabashedly challenging man. He didn’t try to bruise their egos; he went straight for the heart. Could you picture yourself challenging the top executives in your workplace in this way, even if you were totally in the right? Would you be willing to humble the religious establishment of your day, to make the high and mighty look stupid? Could you picture yourself standing defiantly before a denominational minister, asking him (or her), ‘‘Have you never read?’’ Is this how you picture Jesus?