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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Jesus' Love for the Scriptures

Jesus with the teachers

by Dennis Pollock

America today is a strange dichotomy – as a nation we have severely drifted from the Biblical view of life and righteousness, while still seemingly unable to quite bring ourselves to admit that we no longer respect or accept that book which tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… While Americans are rapidly distancing themselves from traditional, Biblical morality, embracing homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, and finding no fault with sex outside of marriage and the convenience of slaying unborn children – still nearly 80 percent are telling pollsters that they believe the Bible to be inspired by God. There is a huge disconnect here, but strangely most don’t see it.

One of the reasons for this disconnect is that many Americans do not read the Bible. They may have a large copy of it on their coffee table and a smaller version on their bookshelf, but these Bibles sit in their positions for years, unread and untouched. Many who profess to believe that the Bible does indeed have its source in God, not only don’t read it, but never go to church to hear sermons which explain it, and have no interest in Christian books or literature. It is comforting for them to believe in a Jesus who carries sheep on His shoulders and wants us all to go to heaven, but they have no interest whatsoever in actually finding out what He says and the lifestyle He demands for those who would follow Him.

As our world moves further and further from Biblical morality, people will eventually have to reject the Scriptures in a far more outright manner than they presently are. Even the dimmest minds will be forced to recognize that the morality and writings of Moses, Isaiah, Paul, and Peter are in sharp and irreconcilable contrast to the lifestyles, values, opinions, and ethics of most people today. Today it is the values of the Bible that are being overthrown; tomorrow it will be the Bible itself. Indeed it is happening already in small measure and among those especially hostile to Christianity, but the drumbeat against the ancient Scriptures will eventually increase to a deafening roar, with only the strongest and most committed evangelicals willing to speak in its defense.

What about Jesus?

Believers have used many different means to demonstrate the validity of the Scriptures, but the strongest and most irresistible argument has to come from a study of the attitude of the Lord Jesus in relation to the Scriptures. In short we must ask the question: “What did Jesus think about the Scriptures?” Surely with His credentials (being the Son of God and God manifested in the flesh) His views ought to be a pretty reliable basis for our own beliefs in this area. This Man, who raised the dead, drove out demons, healed lepers, walked on water, multiplied a few fish and loaves to feed thousands, and commanded storms to be still, ought to be a faithful guide for us, when it comes to our understanding of theology and the inspiration of the Scriptures.

We do not have to wonder about Jesus’ attitude toward the Scriptures! Jesus had a lot to say about them, and the gospels are replete with references to (as Jesus would put it) the law and the prophets. We should keep in mind that Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews of His day loved and respected the Scriptures with a passion. Psalm 119 is considered a “Torah Psalm,” and it abounds from start to finish with references to the value of the inspired word of God. To give you a taste of this amazing declaration of love for God’s word, let me share just a few verses. The Psalmist writes:

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches. (Psalm 119:11-14)

This is the culture into which Jesus was born, and He very much adopted and embraced this love and respect for the Scriptures. As a twelve year old boy, Mary and Joseph couldn’t find him among their acquaintances and had to return to Jerusalem, looking all over the city for Him. When they finally found Him He was “sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). What do you suppose they were discussing? The weather, the latest politics in Rome, current medical practices, or maybe the sports heroes of the Roman Coliseum? No, they were undoubtedly discussing what the Jewish teachers and rabbis always discussed – the Scriptures, and their correct interpretation. Even at the beginning of puberty, Jesus was already fascinated by the Scriptures, and the God that they revealed, a God whom He recognized as His “Heavenly Father.”

The Prophecies of the Bible

Jesus teaching in SynagogueJesus had a keen interest in the prophecies of the Scriptures, being convinced that He and His life and ministry were spelled out in detail through these prophecies. Of course, for Bible prophecies to be of any value at all, they must be inspired by God. Without inspiration these predictions of future events would be merely guesses about things to come, the majority of which would surely prove false. But Jesus never saw it that way. He, like virtually all the Jews of His day, saw these prophecies as coming from the mouth of God, and certain to be fulfilled. People might disagree about their meaning, or their timing, or the precise nature of their fulfillment, but everyone recognized that they must surely come to pass. Jesus seemed to use the strongest language possible in affirming this, saying:

I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. (Matthew 5:18)

In a similar statement He declared that it would be “easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tiny stroke of a letter in the law to become void” (Luke 16:17). At the very outset of His ministry, when He began to preach in the synagogue at Nazareth, He began by quoting from Isaiah, where the prophet writes, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor…” After reading through the passage Jesus announced: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.”

And at the end of His life, as the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, our Savior had to tell Peter to put away his sword. He assured His zealous follower that if He chose, He could call on the Father to provide him more than twelve legions of angels to come to His defense. But this He would not do, and asked, “How then would the Scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?” We see that throughout His life, from boyhood to the launching of His ministry, to the point where they came to arrest Him and put Him to death, Jesus constantly saw Himself and His ministry as fulfilling the inspired words of God that came through prophets who had written and preached many centuries beforehand.

After His resurrection, Jesus had a “Bible study” with His followers. In Luke we read:

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)

Jesus not only believed the prophecies of the Bible – He was determined that His disciples should become very familiar with them, and use them in their preaching and teaching, to prove that He was the Christ, the Son of God.

The Word of God

We evangelicals sometimes call the Bible “the word of God.” This is very much a Biblical term, and we need to see that Jesus Himself used this phrase. In the seventh chapter of Mark He rebuked some of the Jewish leaders for encouraging people to set aside much of their wealth as being devoted to God, resulting in a refusal to care for their aged parents. He reminds them of the Scriptural command to “honor your father and mother,” and then says, “You no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.” If Jesus considered the Scriptures to be the word of God, it cannot be wrong for us to refer to them in this way!

Jesus not only believed the prophecies of the Scriptures; He also believed the miracles that the Bible records. In America, we live in such a hyper-secular culture, many consider miracles to be automatically bogus, nothing more than exaggeration and imagination. Yet Jesus did not think this way. He declared: “Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” To Jesus, who performed miracles on an almost daily basis, it did not seem much of a stretch to believe that the prophet Elisha was able, by the power of God, to heal Naaman of his leprosy.” Jesus even believed in the story of Jonah being swallowed and then regurgitated by a huge fish, something the theological liberals and the Biblical skeptics love to mock. Jesus was respectful of this amazing story, saying, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Humbling Ourselves

There are far more passages we could quote to substantiate Jesus’ love and respect for the Scriptures, but time and space limit us to these few. It is unquestionably and irrefutably apparent that Jesus held firmly to the inspiration of the Scriptures. He was no theological liberal!

What this means for us is that when we deny the Scriptures we put ourselves in direct opposition to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When we say that Moses and Isaiah, and Paul, and Luke and John were “just men” who got as many things wrong as they got right, we are insisting that we know far more than Jesus – He was a primitive, first-century man who was nothing more than a product of His own culture, unenlightened and simple – but we are enlightened, we are the progressive, rational ones. If only Jesus were here today we could straighten Him out and help Him to see that He is wrong and we are right!

Of course, when we make such claims, it might be more believable if we can demonstrate that we can walk on water, raise the dead, heal lepers, and make the blind to see. And if these things are not a part of our resume, we might do well to recognize that Jesus is a far more reliable authority on the Scriptures and everything else having to do with God than we will ever be.

There is a certain humility that is required for us to bow before the authority of the Scriptures. God has never given us the option of picking and choosing which verses and passages we want to believe and accept. The same book which tells us that Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we can live with Him forever – the very same book tells us a great many other things as well. Through the Old and New Testaments we learn the ways of God and are given the values, priorities, and attitudes that must be assimilated into our minds and hearts. We learn the behaviors and perspectives that please our Heavenly Father, and those that He finds abominable.

Is it so difficult for us to believe that in God’s great love for us, He inspired forty men to write books and letters which contain God’s mind and heart for the human race? Is it not a far wiser course to gain our values and perspectives from men and women who walked with the Almighty and were filled with His Holy Spirit, rather than the latest Hollywood or musical celebrities?  Let us therefore follow our Master in respect and love for the Scriptures. For man (and woman) shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

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