Jesus and Scripture
This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).
Although Jesus doesn’t leave us with words He penned, He speaks and acts in ways that become Scripture when faithful eyewitnesses record them. And He makes it clear He is working in concert with the Father and the Spirit.
For example, Jesus claims to be sent by the Father: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). In addition, Jesus casts out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit: “And if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28).
Jesus claims not only to speak the truth, but to be truth incarnate: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
At the same time, Jesus confirms the inspiration and authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. He tells His listeners in the Sermon on the Mount, “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18).
In defense of His deity, Jesus tells the Jews who wish to stone Him, “If he [the Father] called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’ – and the Scripture cannot be broken – do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the one the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God?” (John 10:35-36).
Jesus repeatedly claims to speak the truth, and no falsehood ever is found in Him. In order to be divine, Jesus could not misspeak, lead astray, or deceive. When Jesus speaks, He declares the very words of God – not merely in the sense of a prophet proclaiming the oracles of God, but as God Himself.
Perhaps the greatest argument in support of the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture comes from Jesus’ consistent affirmation of the Old Testament. Consider just a few examples from the law, the prophets, and the writings:
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus quotes liberally from the Torah, seeking to restore the spirit of the law to a generation squinting through a thick cloud of human tradition (Matt. 5-7).
Discussing divorce, Jesus takes His listeners back to the creation story (Matt. 19:4-6 ).
And He challenges the Sadducees’ denial of the resurrection by taking them back to the writings of Moses (Matt. 22:31-32).
In the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, a messianic passage. He boldly proclaims, “Today, as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Luke 4:21).
When Jesus is questioned about the wisdom of eating with tax collectors and sinners, He challenges His listeners to harken to the words of Hosea: “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13).
After observing the Passover on the night of His betrayal, Jesus quotes from Zechariah to prophesy the scattering of His disciples like sheep: “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matt. 26:31).
In Matthew 21, the crowds in Jerusalem acclaim Jesus as “the Son of David.” Even the children gathered at the temple shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Indignantly, the chief priests and scribes protest to Jesus, asking, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus replies, “Yes, have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of infants and nursing babies?” (Matt. 21:15-16 / Ps. 8:2).
After washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus quotes from Psalm 41 to implicate Judas as His betrayer: “I’m not speaking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: The one who eats my bread has raised his heel against me” (John 13:18 / Ps. 41:9).
And on the cross, Jesus writhes in agony as He experiences the full weight of the Father’s wrath: “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’” (Matt. 27:46 / Ps. 22:1).
We could cite many other examples. But it’s clear that Jesus upholds the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures and applies many of them to Himself and His earthly mission to redeem fallen people. Equally important, Jesus’ very words become Scripture, as He speaks and assures His followers that the Holy Spirit will bring to their minds everything He has taught them (John 14:26). In so doing, Jesus affirms the inspiration and authority of the New Testament in advance of its writing.
Next: The Holy Spirit and Scripture