My college major was in Biological Sciences. I chose that because I loved observing animals and plants in nature, but I never thought about what career it might lead to. As I entered my junior year, my friends were beginning to sort out what they were going to do after college and what vocation they saw in their future. It dawned on me that I’d better start getting realistic about that as well. The only things I could imagine being with a biology major were a zookeeper or a high school teacher. The high school teacher idea seemed to be a more likely way for me to earn a living, so I took a course in Secondary Education. I hated it, and I concluded that I’d probably do better caring for camels than for teenagers.
About this time, my friend Dave, who was also majoring in Biological Sciences, graduated and moved on to the University of Texas, where he would be pursuing a PhD in a related field of study. I asked my professor what Dave had decided to focus on for his thesis, and he informed me that the tentative title of Dave’s doctoral thesis was The Percentage of Rabies in the Bat Caves of Northwest Texas. When I expressed shock that this subject matter was so narrow, my professor made it clear to me that the farther you go in graduate studies, the more limited your focus becomes. He used his own PhD thesis as an example: The Courtship Behavior of the Spadefoot Toad.
That’s when I realized that an EXPERT can be defined as a person who learns more and more about less and less.
Along with the Scribes and Pharisees, some of the religious readers who harshly criticized Jesus are described as lawyers in the familiar King James Bible. In the Revised Standard Version that we at ABC use as our pew Bible the same word is translated as experts in the law. They were truly experts in the tiniest details of the technical regulations they accused Jesus of breaking. They knew them cold and followed them scrupulously. Jesus gave them credit for their thorough knowledge in these matters, but also confronted them with their ignorance in some much more critical areas:
“Woe to you, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24)
In many professions, this is defined as specialization: these religious experts specialized in gnats, so they failed to identify a camel!
Some of the same religious experts were there when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, the day we commemorate as Palm Sunday:
When the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did and heard the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matthew 21:15-16)
The children opened their mouths and expressed praise. The experts opened their mouths and swallowed a camel — proving they had learned more and more about less and less.
— Pastor George Van Alstine