OceanSide church of Christ
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HOW JESUS VIEWED THE SCRIPTURES
Victor M. Eskew
God has revealed His will to man in the pages of the Bible (I Tim. 3:16-17). Every human being much chose how he will respond to God’s Word. This was true of Jesus as well. The Bible says: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). Jesus became a human being. As a human being, He, too, had to decide about how He would handle God’s holy Word. His choice is shown to us in the pages of the books we referred to as “The Gospels.”
First, Jesus understood the Word of God to be the final authority in religious matters. When spiritual questions arose, Jesus always pointed individuals to the Word of God. In Matthew 19:3, the Pharisees asked: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus immediately pointed them to the First Book of Moses. “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). On another occasion, a lawyer asked Him this question: “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus also pointed this man to the law. “He said unto him, what is written in the law? How readest thou?” (Luke 10:26). Notice, Jesus did not ask: “What do you think?” or, “What do you feel?” He asked: “What is written in the law?” The Law of Moses was His source of authority. The Sadducees also asked Jesus a question about the resurrection (Matt. 22:23-28). Jesus’ response was again from the Word of God. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God…But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?...” (Matt. 22:29-32). The quotation Jesus set forth was from the Book of Exodus, chapter 3. All of these accounts from our Lord’s life show that He was deeply concerned about what the law had to say. It was His source of authority for all spiritual concerns.
Second, Jesus understood the process of inspiration that brought the Word of God down to man. He knew that human authors had penned the Old Testament. He often referred to those authors: Moses (Matt. 8:4; 19:8); Isaiah (Matt. 13:14; 15:7), and Daniel (Matt. 24:15). He also knew that the Law was the Word of God. In Matthew 15, He referred to “the commandment of God” (v. 6). He had reference to the Fifth Commandment of the Ten Commandments that had been given to Israel by Moses. Jesus understood that the Law of Moses was authored by men who had written down the Word of God. They could do this because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Listen to Jesus as He spoke about the writings of David: “For David said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Mark 12:36). David spoke, not of his own accord, but “by the Holy Ghost.” Jesus knew that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Pet. 1:21).
Third, Jesus trusted in the Word of God to govern and direct His life. In Matthew 4, we read about Satan’s tempting of the Christ. The evil one challenged His claims to be the Son of God. Satan enticed His strongest desires. The devil promised Him great power. The temper even quoted Scripture in an attempt to get Jesus to yield to him. Jesus, however, stood firm and did not give in to the enemy’s enticements. He did this by quoting the Word of God from the book of Deuteronomy. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). “Jesus said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deut. 6:16; Matt. 4:7). “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Deut. 10:20; Matt. 4:10). This event in the life of our Lord is extremely encouraging. It shows that we can resist temptation in the same manner as Jesus did. To do so, however, we must have the same faith in the Word of God that Jesus did.
Fourth, Jesus understood that God’s Word is not to be replaced by the traditions of man. The traditions of the Jews were often thought of as just as authoritative as the inspired words of the Law of Moses. The Jews would condemn anyone who violated those traditions. They confronted Jesus on one occasion for this very thing. Let’s listen to the conversation. “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightiest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matt. 15:1-6). Jesus understood that the commandments of men do not trump the Word of God. In fact, they often contradict God’s Word. When faced with a choice between the commandments of man or the commandments of God, Jesus chose the commandments of God every time. Jesus understood this truth: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).
Fifth, Jesus knew the Word of God was something to be obeyed. He taught obedience to God’s Word. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). In that same sermon, Jesus also said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Jesus attended the feast days in Jerusalem (Matt. 26:17). When He healed the lepers, he directed them to go to the priests in order to be declared clean (Matt. 8:4). Jesus was so meticulous in keeping the law that He Himself never sinned (Heb. 4:15; I Pet. 2:22).
Sixth, Jesus understood that the Word of God contain prophecies that spoke directly about Him as the coming Messiah and Savior of the world. When in the small town of Nazareth, Jesus went into the synagogue and was given the book of Isaiah to read. He read from Isaiah 61. When He completed the reading, He said: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). He exhorted the Jews with these words: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). After His resurrection, He appeared to His apostles, “and he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).
Jesus had an extremely high regard for the Word of God. He never diminished its authority. He never laughed at it or ridiculed it. He never tried to get men to disobey it. He held it up for what is is: “The Word of God.” He trusted it. He obeyed it. He taught it. Jesus loved the Word of God. May all of us learn from His example and follow Him.