John MacArthur mentioned several important things about what Jesus thought of the Old Testament in a recent sermon series. Here are some of them plus my own comments.
For one thing, He thought He wrote it (and I believe him). Christians have traditionally held these views:
- Jesus is God as He claimed to be.
- God inspired the Bible.
- Therefore, Jesus inspired the Bible.
Interestingly, the references Jesus made to the Old Testament were often the most controversial parts and/or those characters that some liberal theologians think were fictional – Satan, Noah, Jonah, Sodom. When Jesus refers to them there isn’t even a hint that they weren’t real.
He didn’t appear to have any problem with the destruction of the world (except for Noah and his family) and He clearly taught that the majority of people will go to Hell. So we should dispense with the false dichotomy of the vengeful Old Testament God and the kinder, gentler New Testament God right here.
Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Jesus is the theme of Scripture, and He thought it spoke accurately of himself.
John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to tweak it or refine it. Many passages refer to this, for example:
John 15:25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
On the road to Emmaus – aka “the world’s greatest Bible study” – Jesus explained it all and showed He they should have been able to see it. He clearly thought the whole book was about him, so He was either correct or a raging egomaniac.
Luke 24:25-27 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Jesus quoted or referred to the Old Testament roughly 180 times – about 10% of everything recorded in the Gospels. He thought the Old Testament was error free. If there were errors and He knew about them, that would have been evil. If there were errors and He didn’t know about them, then He wasn’t God.
Matthew 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Jesus used Scripture to counter Satan and was completely confident in it.
Luke 4:3-4 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”
Jesus also used Scripture to answer John the Baptist in Luke 7.
A final thought: Some people put more weight on the “red letters,” i.e., what Jesus is directly quoted as saying. But the whole Bible is his Word. And He used many of the red letters to refer to and explain the black letters.