Todays readings.. 1 Kings 1, Jeremiah 28, Mark 2
“HAVE YOU NEVER READ”
Addressing the religious leaders the Lord Jesus said more than once, “Have you never read”? He was referring to items in their Scriptures, the Old Testament. Of course they had read these divinely inspired words again and again, it was an essential part of their “job.” These were the foundations from which they taught the people to behave as God required – and to understand the blessings God was prepared to give in the future.
The tragedy was that they were not satisfied with its plain meaning; they embellished some parts of it. This leads Jesus to take them to task over their complaints that his disciples were “doing what was not lawful on the Sabbath.” [Mark 2 v24]
What were the disciples doing? As they walked through the grain fields they plucked a few heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands and ate the corn. Jesus responds to the Pharisees, “have you never read what David did when he was in need and was hungry, and those with him … “ [v.25]
What the Law said was that they should not “work” on the Sabbath Day – and these Pharisees had added to the Law by saying it was “work” if people plucked a few ears of corn to have a nibble as they passed by on the Sabbath. The final verses of Deuteronomy Ch. 23 show that what the disciples did was allowable under the Law. But the law did not allow people to take a bag and pluck grain for future eating.
So there is a challenge in what Jesus said, of course they had read this, but their devious minds had read into the Law more than was written. When we come to Mark Ch. 12 next week we come across a more serious example in an encounter Jesus had with the Sadducees. He rebuked them saying, “You neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God” [v.24].
Again, they must have read them, but they distorted their obvious meaning to fit what they wanted to believe. In their case they refused to believe there was to be a future resurrection.
Sadly today we can point to examples of the same thing. The daily prayerful reading of God’s word is our safeguard against having Jesus say to us on that day, “Have you never read?” Tragically, it will then be too late to get our understanding and actions right, let us read and act in the right way – NOW.