By Earl E. Robertson
Jesus’ attitude toward the Scriptures is manifested in manifold ways. The Scriptures affected every aspect of Jesus the Christ: His co-existence with the Father, the testimony of the prophets foretelling His coming, His birth, His life and ministry, trial, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. No person ever had so much written about Him and required of Him as Jesus. And in minute detail, He filled full every demand and expectation required of Him by the Scriptures. He did not meet the expectations some assumed of Him, but He met every requirement demanded of Him in Scripture. This, within itself, is sufficient for anyone to know Jesus’ attitude toward the sacred writings. Just before His ascension to glory He said, “These are the words which I spike unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Lk. 24:44). His testimony regarding scriptural events to transpire in His life reveals His total consciousness of the absoluteness of the Scriptures. Jesus’ testimony shows that He regarded the Scriptures as the voice of God, eternal in their nature, complete and adequate to the accomplishment of all right living in bringing human behavior into acceptance with God.
The testimony of Jesus declares His acceptance of the accuracy of Scripture. He relied upon what they said, believing they held the solutions to human problems. He believed the Scriptures held the answers to the problems and difficulties of the human family: the problems within one’s self; problems between two or more; and the difficulties between man and God because of sin. Jesus’ question, “Have ye not read” (Matt. 19:4; Mk. 12:10), reveals the essential place for Scripture within the lives of all, and the urgency for all to see the scriptural answers for us couched therein.
It Is Written
When tempted of the devil in the wilderness, Jesus repeatedly responded, “It is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7,10). The Son of God incarnate appealing to the Scriptures as a weapon of defense against the bold Satanic efforts to lead him away from right, said, “It is written.” The one who is unable to say, “It is written,” is defenseless having no spiritual panoply. Jesus could not only quote the Scriptures but he could properly apply them. Only when that which “is written” is rightfully used does it bless the user. Satan, Jesus’ enemy, quoted Scripture to Jesus, but he misused it. Scripture can’t be properly used without it accomplishing God’s intent (cf. Isa. 55:11). Scripture is to the Christian “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), and it was this very sword that the Lord used against the enemy of all man-kind by which He retained His rightful place before God as Redeemer.
The wonderful writings of the prophets about Jesus were used by Jesus often in His ministry. Peter said to Cornelius, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). To the unbelieving Jews, Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me” (John 5:39). These scriptures Jesus could quote and accurately use seeking to benefit the very ones who also knew them but did not know their meaning. Being able to rightfully say, “it is written” as Jesus did, is the chart and compass of all true religion. Any religious leader who cannot appeal to the Scriptures for authority to support his teaching and practice is not of God.
Must Be Fulfilled
Jesus’ testimony to the absoluteness of scripture is found in His declaration, “the scriptures must be fulfilled” (Mk. 14:49; Matt. 26:54). Unfulfilled Scripture would make its author a liar. As Paul preached to the Gentiles in Pisidia, “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he bath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:32, 3), so did Jesus testify that Scripture must be fulfilled (Lk. 22:37). Peter testified the same, saying, “But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).
Jesus believed the Scripture could be understood and properly applied. Jesus did for His disciples what the evangelist Philip did for the eunuch through a proper use of Old Testament writings. Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch (Acts 8:35) from Isaiah 53:7,8. On the day Jesus arose from the dead two disciples went to a village, Emmaus, talking about the things that had happened. During this, Jesus “himself drew near, and went with them.” Seeing their astonishment, Jesus said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:25-27). Philip also said to Nathaniel, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the. Law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth” (Jn. 1:45).
This testimony is further corroborated by the testimony of the Samaritan woman. She said to Jesus, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things” (Jn. 4:25). The supernatural behavior of Jesus caused her to relate Him to the prophesies concerning Him. She said, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet” (Jn. 4:19). Ending her conversation with Him she ran into the city, and said to the men there, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (Jn. 4:29). Her understanding of Scripture led her to this conclusion.
Jesus was the master teacher in using Old Testament Scripture. His use of Isaiah 61:1,2 in the synagogue at Nazareth is a good illustration of this. He read the verses before the Rabbis and others in the synagogue service and made application of them to Himself. He told them, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Lk. 4:16-21). The people “bear him witness” and wondered at the gracious words He had spoken.
Jesus told His disciples “that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Lk. 24:44). Jesus not only said “all things must be fulfilled,” He meant all things. All things in the law, the prophets, the psalms!
Scripture Can Stand Alone
Jesus went to the city of Nain, and getting near the gate, He met some men carrying a dead man out. The dead man was the only son of a widow. Jesus had compassion on her and raised her dead son to life. The people seeing this declared “that a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people” (Lk. 7:16). John the Baptist heard of this ministry of Jesus and sent two of his own disciples to Jesus for them to ask Him, “Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” In the presence of them Jesus “cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.” Upon this, he told the two disciples to go and “tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Lk. 7:22). In this Jesus did not say, “Yes, I am he” or “No, I am not the one.” Jesus knew that John the Baptist knew the Scriptures and that he believed what they said about the Christ that should come. John knew that Isaiah 35:5, 6 said certain things would be done by the Christ when he would come into the world, and, furthermore, John knew that only Christ would be doing these things. He could believe Jesus was the one for His works bore witness to such (Jn. 10:25, 38). The world had never seen the blind receive their sight (Jn. 9:32). John, hearing that Jesus was performing such miracles, knew that he had to be the one of whom the prophets had testified. Jesus knew this much about John.
When the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him if it is lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause, He knew their effort to entrap Him would not be successful if he continued to testify the rightful place of Scripture in giving answer to them. Jesus did not bother Himself to deal with either school of the Rabbis’ efforts in interpretation of Deuteronoray 24:1-4, the bill of divorcement. Rather, He pitched His battle for the pattern of marriage; He appealed to the beginning. Jesus said in answer to them, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female . . . . Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:4, 8). Jesus was willing to let plain statements of Scriptures stand alone in giving answer to the agonizing questions and problems faced by the people of his day. This example should be emulated by the followers of Jesus today.
Furthermore, Jesus testified the “scripture cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:35). Inasmuch as Scripture is bound in heaven prior to its being bound on earth (Matt. 16:19), it cannot be invalidated or loosed by man. Man has no power to loose what God binds, and neither can he bind what God does not. The teaching of Jesus regarding Scripture causes profound reverence toward the Sacred Oracles. His whole life was made up of doing what Scripture required of Him. What an example (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1)! Jesus never asked for a meeting with the prophets at a conference table to “negotiate” with them about the things they said of Him. Neither should any follower of the Christ today ask for such a meeting for compromise! Man lives by every word of God, says Jesus (Matt. 4:4).
When time is no more and the elements are melting with fervent heat (2 Pet. 3:10), and the judgment comes for each of us, it will then again be that we must face the Scriptures. Jesus says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48). Since one’s whole life (cf. Eccl. 12:13) has to do with Scripture, and then the judgment, too, should we not give the proper testimony about the Scriptures? We obey it to be saved from sin, walk in it to have fellowship with God, and will face it in the judgment at last.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 1, pp. 11-12
January 6, 1983