Exalt the Scriptures Like Jesus!
Matthew 22:41-46 and Various Passages (with thanks to James Burrell)  
By Paul Robison

Listen to the closing lines of an interesting poem:
“Oh, may I love Thy precious Word; may I explore the mine.
May I its fragrant flowers glean; may light upon me shine.
Oh, may I find my armor there; Thy Word my trusty sword.
I'll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord” (Hodder).
Let's do a little thinking now.  Since there is a God Who is the Creator and since people are His creation, doesn't it stand to reason that He would want to communicate with them?  So, what means would God use to do this?  Since humans are shown to be the highest form in God's creation according to Genesis, wouldn't it be reasonable that God would try to communicate to mankind using the human form?  But there are some problems with using a human form, aren't there?  A human being is restricted to a particular history, a particular geography, and a particular culture.  To overcome these restrictions, wouldn't it be reasonable also that God would supplement His coming as a person with a written record?  That text could then be distributed all across the globe.  What was basically the message of the Old Testament?  A King, from the Jewish race, is coming Who will establish an eternal kingdom that will spread throughout all the earth.  Isaiah summarizes it this way in 9:6: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.”  Now, what was basically the message of the four gospels?  “Good news!  The King has arrived, and His name is Jesus!”  Now, if God reveals Himself in Jesus and in the Scriptures, then they should be in perfect agreement with each other, right?  So, this raises two important questions: “Do the Scriptures bear a clear witness to the claims of Jesus as God in the flesh, and does Jesus bear a clear witness to the Scriptures as being the Word of God” (Burrell)?  Because if both of these questions can be answered affirmatively, then we should put our trust in Jesus and the Scriptures, also known as the New Testament, as the all-sufficient and final revelation of God to man!  We are into a series on imitating Jesus and have already seen several challenges: be devoted to God like Jesus, be humble like Jesus, be courageous like Jesus, be hopeful like Jesus, be loving like Jesus.  Today's challenge is: exalt the Scriptures like Jesus!  We want to answer our two previous questions.  As an answer is given to the second part, we will see four ways that Jesus used the Scriptures.
 
Do the Scriptures bear a clear witness to the claims of Jesus as God in the flesh?  Let's look quickly at several passages in the New Testament which reveal that Jesus was that long-awaited King which was prophesied in the Old Testament.  Notice what Peter says in his sermon to a Gentile audience in Acts 10:38ff: “... God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power [Did you hear that word 'anointed'.  Who were the 'anointed ones' in the Old Testament?  That's right, Israel's kings.], who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.  Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses, chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.  And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.  To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”  That's pretty clear, isn't it?  Jesus was anointed by God and will now be the Judge of all mankind.  All the scriptures written by the prophets bear witness to the truth that sins can be taken away only through His name!  Now let's look at Paul's sermon to a Jewish audience in Acts 13:32ff: “And we proclaim to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers [What promise?  That of Isaiah and the other prophets that a King is coming.]  God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus.  As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.'  And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.'  Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption!'  For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.  Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”  That's clear, isn't it?  God fulfilled the Scriptures' prophecies in Jesus Christ.  He is the promised King who provides forgiveness and makes us justified or righteous in God's eyes.  Now let's note the beginning of John's gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … [Now verse 14] “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Now that's very clear, isn't it?  Do the Scriptures bear a clear witness to the claims of Jesus as God in the flesh?  These scriptures written by Peter, Paul, and John, apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit reply: “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!” to that question.  Both the Old and New Testaments bear a clear witness to the claims of Jesus as God in the flesh!
 
Now the next question is: Does Jesus bear a clear witness to the Scriptures as being the Word of God?”  Let's notice how greatly Jesus exalted the Old Testament scriptures throughout His lifetime.  Just like the poet who praised the Scriptures in this sermon's introduction, Jesus also exalted the Scriptures.  “He revered every 'jot and tittle' of the Hebrew Scriptures. … These are the prayers Jesus prayed, the poems He memorized, the songs He sang, the bedtime stories he heard as a child, the prophecies He [must have often] pondered” (Yancey).  And here we see four ways that Jesus used the Scriptures.  First of all, Jesus used the Scriptures to guide His actions.  One of Jesus' first public actions was to cleanse the temple in Jerusalem.  But what prompted Him to do this?  Look at John 2:17: “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  Jesus must have explained His actions based on this scripture in Psalm 69:9.  How did Jesus begin His sermon which He preached in His home town of Nazareth?  He began with a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 found in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor [there's that anointing which we saw earlier in Peter's sermon to Cornelius]; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  Then notice Jesus' words in verse 21: “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  And during the rest of Jesus' ministry, don't we see Him fulfilling this passage about His ministry as He preaches in the synagogues, heals the multitudes, frees the demon-possessed, and gives sight to several blind people?  In fact, when Jesus cousin John becomes discouraged while in prison, and he sends some disciples to ask Jesus: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”  Notice again how Jesus underscores that He is fulfilling the mission outlined for Him in the Scriptures: “Go, and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:4-6).  Jesus used the Scriptures to guide His actions.  When Jesus made His entrance into Jerusalem the week before His death, why did He not enter into it riding on a warhorse?  After all, He was THE King, wasn't He?  The answer is found in John 12:14-15: “Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written: 'Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, you King is coming sitting on a donkey's colt.'”  The Scriptures in the book of Zechariah had predicted how it should be done.  Soon after Jesus washes the disciples' feet, He speaks about His betrayal to come as a fulfillment of the Scriptures in John 13:18: “I do not speak concerning all of you.  I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled: 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.'”  Jesus also saw what His disciples' response would be as a fulfillment of Scriptures in Matthew 26:31: “Then Jesus said to them: “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'” Notice how John then describes the close of Jesus' life in 19:28ff: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!'” [Now go to verse 30.] “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said: “It is finished!”  In other words, “My mission to fulfill the Scriptures has been accomplished!”  This is not a cry of exhaustion, but a victorious cry of accomplishment; Jesus had done ALL that the Scriptures had prophesied concerning Him!  Oh, how Jesus exalted the Scriptures and used them as a guide for His actions.  Will we do the same?  Will we let the Scriptures guide our lives as well?  Peter admonishes in 2 Peter 3:17-18: “You, therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being lead away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Peter warns that error can lead us astray.  How can we stay on course?  By growing the grace and knowledge of Jesus.  But how can we do that if we do not read and let the New Testament guide us?  Jesus used the Scriptures to guide His actions?  Let's exalt the Scriptures like Jesus!
 
Second, Jesus used the Scriptures to resist temptation.  You probably will recall how Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted.  After 40 days of fasting, Satan comes to Him and gives him three challenges: “Turn these stones into bread; jump off of the temple; bow down and worship me!”  And what does Jesus use as His weapon of offense against these attacks by Satan.  He uses the Scriptures, especially the writings in Deuteronomy.  “It is written: 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Dt. 8:3).  “It is written again: 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'” (Dt. 6:16).  “It is written: 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve'” (Dt. 6:13).  Jesus used the Scriptures to resist temptation.  And we also should do the same.  The apostle Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”  Just like Jesus, when Satan tells us one thing, we need to know God's word so well that we can respond, “You are deceitful and wrong, because this passage in the New Testament says that we should act in this way.”  James claims that by knowing the scriptures, we can save our souls: “Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (1:21)!  We also need to use the Scriptures to resist temptation.  Let's exalt the Scriptures like Jesus!
 
Third, Jesus used the Scriptures to endure suffering.  Jesus told a parable about some wicked vine-dressers, and notice what happens as He concludes in Matthew 21:42ff: “Have you never read in the Scriptures [there they are again guiding Jesus' preaching]: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone [yes, Jesus was aware that the Jewish leaders would reject Him].  This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?”  Rejection, yes, but also something marvelous was going to take place, and Jesus knew this would happen as well.  How do we know that He knew?  Look now at Luke 24:25 where Jesus says to two of His disciples: “'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?'  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  Just a short time later, He again says something very similar to all His apostles in Luke 24:46-48: “'Thus it is written [appealing to Scriptures again], and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.”  Jesus knew the suffering that would take place in Jerusalem, but He also knew that victory that would occur there too!  Isn't this our consolation as well?  The apostle Paul tells us that our suffering is a fulfillment of Scripture in Romans 8:35-37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.' [This passage from Psalm 44:22 sounds rather grim, but then notice what Paul immediately affirms :] Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”  The Scriptures motivated Christ to endure His suffering, and the New Testament can motivate us to look beyond our suffering to the victory that we have in Jesus!  Let's exalt the Scriptures like Jesus!
 
Next, Jesus used the Scripture to teach others!  Notice what Philip tells Nathanael in John 1:45: “Philip found Nathanael and said to him: 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Now how did Philip know that these passages applied to Jesus?  Surely, it can be deduced that Philip was taught by Jesus Himself that these passages applied to Him.  Notice how Jesus appeals to the scriptures when He speaks to the Jewish ruler Nicodemus in John 3:14-15: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Notice when the Samaritan woman quotes the Scriptures to Him Jesus confirms them in John 4:25-26: “The woman said to Him: 'I know that Messiah is coming' (who is called Christ).  When He comes, He will tell us all things.' [She had just paraphrased Deuteronomy 18:15 & 18.]  Jesus said to her: 'I who speak to you am He.'”  Jesus' first revelation of His kingship is promoted by Scriptures!  The scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign, and Jesus tells them that one based on Scripture will be given to them in Matthew 12:40: “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!”  When Jesus was often asked questions, He would often reply back: “What is written in the law?” or “How do you read?” (Luke 10:25-28; Mark 12:26).  In the passage that was read this morning, which Jesus spoke in His final days, He asked the Jewish rulers in Matthew 22:45: “If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He His Son?”  Again, Jesus had just quoted Psalm 110:1.  Using the Scriptures, Jesus asked them a question that they could not answer, which also indicated that He was the Messiah.  When Peter pulled out his sword to defend Jesus, Jesus told him these words in Matthew 26:52-54: “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”  Jesus used the Scriptures to teach others, and we must do the same!  The apostle Paul underscores the great wisdom to be found in God's Word with these words in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine [or teaching], for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  The New Testament is filled with God's inspired wisdom to bless us.  Let's use these Scriptures to teach and to bless others!  Let's exalt the Scriptures like Jesus! 
 
A brother writes these inspiring words to a hymn that we sing:
“How precious is the Book divine by inspiration given!
Bright as a lamp its precepts shine to guide my soul to heaven.
It sweetly cheers my drooping heart in this dark vale of tears. 
Light to my life it still imparts and quells my rising fears” (Sanderson).  The Scriptures bear clear witness to the claim of Jesus as God in the flesh.  And Jesus bears clear witness that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God because He used them to guide His actions, to resist temptation, to endure His suffering, and to teach others.  Let's exalt the Scriptures like Jesus! 
 
Let's pray: “Father, we thank You for revealing Yourself to us through Your Son and Your Word!  Thank You that Jesus exalted the Scriptures in His life!  Help us to love the Scriptures and use them in our lives.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen!
 
“But he said, 'More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 12:28)!  Both our questions with which we started this sermon were answered affirmatively.  Therefore, you should put your trust in Jesus and the Scriptures as the all-sufficient and final revelation of God to mankind.  Build your life on the solid foundation of Christ and the New Testament!