|It is clear from even a fairly superficial reading of the Gospels that our Lord Jesus Christ had absolute confidence in the Scriptures as they were in his time - that is, in what we know as the Old Testament. Jesus never for one moment questioned the authority or veracity of anything in the Bible as it was in his own day, as the several examples we give on this page clearly show.|
Jesus insisted that the very purpose for which he had come was to fulfil what was written in the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets, not to abolish them, for they will remain in force until the present order of creation disappears (Matthew 5:17-18). Moreover, anyone who broke even the smallest commandment in God's law and taught others to do the same would, he said, be of little or no account in the final reckoning of things. But, anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches others to do the same, will be counted great in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:19).
Indeed, from the beginning to the end of his public ministry, and afterwards, Jesus was conscious that he was fulfilling the Scriptures, as is evident from the following incidents:-
- At his baptism, when John questioned Jesus as to why he should come him to be baptised, Jesus merely replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness" (Matthew 3:13-15 (NIV)).
What did Jesus mean by his reply?
It is a statement full of significance, and we can merely touch on a few of the implications here. At the very least, it signified that Jesus was voluntarily submitting to an ordinance similar to the one prescribed for the ceremonial purification of the High Priest before he offered the sacrifice for atonement (Leviticus 16:3-4). It may also been seen as an act of self-identification with the lost sheep of Israel - all those whom he had come to seek and to save (Matthew 15:21-24 and Luke 19:8-10). Although it was to involve the Cross, Jesus took joy in fulfilling his Father's will (Psalm 40:7-8), voluntarily humbling himself for the sake of our salvation (Philippians 2:6-11). This calls forth our deepest gratitude, expressed in lives of holy obedience (Colossians 2:6-7).
- At his first public appearance after his temptation, Jesus announced his divine commission by reading from the prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21).
- On the last evening with his disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus used verses from the Psalms to explain the irrational and often violent hatred which both he and his followers arouse in the world (John 15:18-25).
- At the time of his arrest, in rebuking the one who drew his sword (whom the apostle John names as Peter), Jesus pointed to the need for the Scriptures to be fulfilled as the reason why he should not resist arrest and thereby evade the Cross (compare Matthew 26:47-54 with John 18:1-11, and see also the parallel passages in (Mark 14:43-49 and Luke 22:47-51).
- After his resurrection, Jesus taught his disciples by explaining directly from the Scriptures how he had fulfilled everything that was written about him (Luke 24:25-27 and 24:44-48).
Heartwarming WordsInstead of saying, Now that I am alive again you can forget everything written in the past, Jesus affirmed the truth and authority of the Scriptures in such a way that his hearers felt their hearts strangely warm as he walked with them and explained the things written about him in the past (Luke 24:32).
In the same way, our hearts will be warmed as we allow the Holy Spirit to interpret the Scriptures to us so that the words of Christ, in all their richness, will live in our hearts and make us wise (Colossians 3:16).
Jesus characteristically referred to the Scriptures by using the phrase, It is written or some similar expression. Using God's Word in this way he:
- Overcomes the devil's temptations (see Matthew 4:1-11, paralleled in Luke 4:1-13).
- Justifies his expulsion of the Temple traders (see Matthew 21:12-13, paralleled in Mark 11:15-17 and Luke 19:45-46, also (with variation) in John 2:13-22).
- Explains his forthcoming betrayal, desertion and death (see Matthew 26:24 and 26:31, paralleled in Mark 14:21 and 14:27, and (with variation) in Luke 22:22 and 22:37).
In the same way, when he is engaged in controversy with the religious leaders, Jesus appeals to the written Word of God. For example:-
- To an expert in religious law who asked him What must I do to receive eternal life? Jesus replied with the counter-question What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?. The expert himself answered by quoting from the Scriptures, for which Jesus commended him, and, in reply to his further question told the story we know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
- To the Pharisees and teachers of religious law, who challenged him about his disciples' failure to observe the ancient, but unscriptural custom of washing their hands before eating, Jesus replied that they had put their own laws in the place of God's law (Mark 7:1-13). Jesus then went on to teach the crowd a pointed lesson about the real nature of religious purity and pollution (Mark 7:14-23).
- To the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, Jesus replied, in answer to their test question about a woman who had married seven times, that the root of their difficulty lay in their ignorance of the Scriptures and the power of God (Mark 12:18-27).
Written for UsAs followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we too may legitimately make the same appeal, It is written, in order to answer arguments advanced against the Christian faith, and the accusations of the evil one, with absolute confidence in the truth and authority of what we quote from God's own Word. We may also use the Scriptures in the same way in order gently and respectfully to answer enquirers about the reason for the hope the Christian faith gives us (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Jesus frequently appropriated to himself a most important Old Testament title, the Son of Man. We find this in all four Gospels. In the Gospel of Matthew, for instance, our Lord applies it to himself no fewer than 29 times (Matthew 8:20, 9:6, 10:23, 11:19, 12:8, 12:32, 12:40, 13:37, 13:41, 16:13, 16:27, 16:28, 17:9, 17:12, 17:22, 19:28, 20:18, 20:28, 24:27, 24:30 (twice), 24:37, 24:39, 24:44, 25:31, 26:2, 26:24, 26:45 and 26:64). In Mark, Jesus applies the title to himself 13 times, in Luke, 25, and in John, 13.
The title, Son of Man, has its origin in a vision granted to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV)). It points to our Lord's permanent and rightful rule over the entire world, which at present is misruled by the successive empires of men (Daniel 7:1-8).
As evidence of his Messiahship, at his trial Jesus affirmed that the one like a son of man whom Daniel saw in his vision was indeed himself, and that he would be seated in the place of power and return on the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:61-62).
Further RevelationJohn the Divine, in his greeting to the seven churches, also refers to Jesus as coming on the clouds of heaven (Revelation 1:7). Jesus as the Son of Man is the One whom John sees standing in the middle of the seven gold lampstands (representing the seven churches) (Revelation 1:12-13 and 1:20).
(At this point you may wish to remind yourself of what we said previously about the revelation given to John the Divine.)
Of particular significance for our own time, we believe, is the fact that Jesus accepted without question that Jonah was an authentic historical character, (Matthew 12:38-41 and parallels in Luke 11:29-30 and 11:32, also Matthew 16:1-4). Our Lord's use of Jonah's incarceration in the great fish as a portent of his own death and resurrection may surprise us, but it was a fully sufficient sign that he was indeed the Messiah. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear no further proof was needed.
It is still the same today. We do not need any evidence on which to base our faith in Jesus and to receive his salvation other than that already provided by the Scriptures, as Jesus pointedly told the Jewish leaders (John 5:39), and as the apostle Paul made clear to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15). To insist on miraculous signs and wonders as evidence on which to base our trust in the Saviour is to fall into the same trap as the religious leaders of Jesus' day.
Historical ConfirmationFor independent historical confirmation from the Old Testament that the prophet Jonah was a real person compare 2 Kings 14:25 with Jonah 1:1. (This is but just one small example of how Scripture confirms Scripture.)
In the previous sections of this page we have seen some of the ways in which Jesus used the Scriptures (our Old Testament) to authenticate his message and actions. For him, the Scriptures had to be fulfilled, for they were the Word of God - and God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).
But Jesus not only appealed to the past, he also looked to the future. In appointing his apostles, he not only gave them the task of making known the gospel to their contemporaries, but also, of recording it in definitive form for the benefit of future generations, together with further revelations they would receive. As Jesus explained to his disciples during his last evening with them, this was one of the purposes for which the Holy Spirit would be given after his departure (John 14:23-26, 16:5-7 and 16:13-15). Only by making provision for such a definitive record could Jesus ensure that the word he had given his apostles (John 17:14) would be preserved intact and faithfully transmitted to all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony (John 17:20).
The Incarnate Word & the Written WordJesus Christ - the incarnate Word of God - placed his absolute trust in the Scriptures - the written Word of God - as he had received them. Indeed, on one occasion, when disputing with the Jews in the Temple, he insisted that "the Scripture cannot be broken", in the sense of being destroyed, amended or diluted in any way (John 10:34-36 (NIV)). Not only did Our Lord have complete Confidence in the Word but, as we have explained, he also made provision for further revelation to be added to Scripture under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus' acceptance of the Old Testament as the authentic Word of God, together with his preparation for the writing of the New, offer possibly the two most compelling reasons why we may place our every Confidence in the Word.
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