In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
A closer look at what Jesus thought of the Bible.
If Jesus is the Lord of the church, we must submit to His lordship in every area of life.
Today we are going to take a look at the Bibliology of the beloved Son of God. What did Jesus believe about Scripture? Did He trust in the written Word? Would He have confessed faith in the formal Protestant principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’?
Let’s do some investigating.
1.- Jesus never opposed the written Word of God.
Jesus never uttered a single word of criticism against what God had revealed in the Old Testament. Even in the Sermon on the Mount when Christ said repeatedly, “You have heard it said but I say unto you…” by no means was He lifting Himself up against Scripture. At the beginning of His sermon He explained: “Think not that I have come to destroy the Law or the prophets; I have not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). He wanted to bring out the deeper truths of the Word, not to annul them.
2.- Jesus did not correct the perspective of the Pharisees with respect to the Bible.
Although Jesus had various doctrinal disputes with the conservative Jews of His day, namely, the Pharisees, the Lord never rebuked them for their orthodox Bibliology.
The Pharisees, unlike the Sadducees, believed that all of Scripture had been inspired by God and therefore that it was an inerrant text. But Jesus never launched any criticism of such a view; He simply questioned the hermeneutics of the Pharisees.
3.- Jesus subjected Himself to Scripture.
Even before embarking on His public ministry, Jesus was wholly submitted to the Word of God. He kept the Law of Moses meticulously. When tempted by the devil in the desert, He quoted the famous expression “It is written” three times to reveal that He was under the authority of His Father’s revelation (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).
4.- Jesus proclaimed that Scripture would be fulfilled.
The Lord Jesus was convinced that every single promise of Scripture was going to be fulfilled. He pointed out in John 10:35 that no Scripture can be broken. He even went so far as to say that, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).
The term ‘jot’ in Greek is the translation of the Hebrew word ‘yodh’ (which is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet). It is almost like a comma. There are some 66,000 yodhs in the Old Testament.
According to Jesus, every single yodh matters. As Kevin De Young put it, “Jesus could not state His affirmation of the Scriptures in any stronger language”.1
5.- Jesus said that even the human parts of the Bible were written by God.
There is a surprising text in Matthew 19:5 where Jesus points out that a text from the Old Testament which was penned by a human author (Genesis 2:24) was actually spoken by the living God.
Jesus asks, “Have you not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall be one flesh?”
In reality, it was not God who “said” or spoke the content Genesis 2:24 but the author of Genesis. But since Christ believed in the doctrine of inspiration, He took it for granted that it was His Father who was the real Author of the verse. Amazing!
6.- He was given to the ask of teaching the Word.
Christ was, first and foremost, a teacher of the Scriptures. When He stood up in the synagogue, He read the well-known text of Isaiah 61:1-2 and then proclaimed that, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21).
From that day forth, the ministry of Jesus was characterized by teaching the Word of God. Matthew 9:35 says, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues”.
The Saviour believed in the great need of theology and sound doctrine. In each moment, His foundation was Scripture.
7.- He healed to fulfil the Word of God.
As well as His teaching ministry, Jesus was also acclaimed as a healer. He cast out devils, cleansed the lepers, healed the sick and brought the dead back to life. Matthew 9:35 also states that Jesus healed all manner of diseases and sicknesses.
Why was Jesus so concerned about physical healing? The Scripture answers us in the following manner: “When the evening came, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17).
This means that even Jesus’ spectacular healing ministry was all for the sake of fulfilling the promises of the Old Testament.
8.- Jesus never disobeyed the Word.
If Jesus had sinned, He could not have been our Saviour. God’s holiness demands a perfect sacrifice. At no point in Christ’s life did He ever sin. As Hebrews 4:15 clarifies, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”.
When the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, He replied by revealing that they had forgotten the real intention of the Day of the Lord (Mark 2:23-28). By no means did Jesus sin against God’s written Word.
9.- Jesus believed in the messianic prophecies.
Throughout His public ministry, Jesus taught that the messianic texts of the Old Testament were being fulfilled in Him. When John the Baptist sent messengers to ask Jesus if He was the one who was to come, Jesus replied saying:
“Go your way, and tell John what things you 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” (Luke 7:22).
By answering in such a fashion, Jesus was appealing directly to the testimony of Isaiah 35:4-6 thus showing John that He was the promised Messiah. Even before the Sanhedrin, Jesus quoted Daniel 7:13 affirming: “I am; and you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven”.
Even in His darkest hour upon the cross, Jesus continued making known that truth and authority of Scripture. He quoted the messianic Psalm, number twenty-two, thus revealing that He was still meditating upon the blessed written Word of God.
10.- Even His death and resurrection obey Scripture!
Finally, Jesus had Scripture in such high esteem that He gave His life and rose again in obedience to them. How many times did Jesus prophesy of His death? Before His passion, He announced, “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me” (Luke 22:37).
After His resurrection, Christ explained that His passion and resurrection occurred so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“And He said unto them, These are the words which I spoke 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. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:44-46).
In life and in death, Jesus obeyed the blessed, infallible and inerrant written Word of God.
To sum up, it is easy to see how high a Bibliology Jesus had. He understood that all Scripture was the written Word of God. So with all confidence, He would indeed profess faith in the Protestant principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’.
In the light of our study, we must ask ourselves the following questions: is our Bibliology as high as that of Christ? If we do not honour Scripture with the same fervour as Christ, can we continue to call Him ‘Lord’?
A follower of Jesus embraces, loves and treasure his (her) Bible.
1 DE YOUNG, Kevin, quoted in MACARTHUR, John (ed.), The Inerrant Word (Crossway: Illinois, 2016), p. 78.