Jesus and His Bible
November 8th, 1964 @ 8:15 AM
JESUS AND HIS BIBLE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Luke 24:27, 44-45
11-8-64 8:15 a.m.
Any time workmen do anything, it takes forever and ever to get it done. If you are building a chicken coop, prepare for six long months to complete it. We have been remodeling our church auditorium I cannot remember when it first began. We are still at it and still in it. Today as I sat in the pulpit I heard the people coming into the choir, into the balcony all the way around. A long time ago there was supposed to have been this beautiful rug placed on the balcony, but I see it is not there yet. But you be patient; it will be laid down one of these long, distant days. Same way about the front up here: all of this is to be elegantly remade. These clashing colors of reds up here are an amazing thing for me to behold; but they will be all tied together one happy and glorious consummating day. And we will be happy and glad when that hour comes.
On the radio you are sharing the early morning service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Jesus and His Bible. The same Bible I hold in my hand, except the New Testament, is the same Bible Jesus held in His hand. There were thirty-nine books of the Old Covenant that He read and loved and lived by; and those are the thirty-nine books of the Old Covenant that I hold in my hand today. And the reading of our text is in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, first verses 27, and then 44:
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
And verse 44:
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake 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.
[Luke 24:27, 44-45]
The ancient Jew divided the Holy Scriptures into three parts: the Torah, the Neviim, and the Kethuvim. These are the three parts that Jesus used to expound to His disciples all things concerning Himself: the Law of Moses, the Torah, the Pentateuch; the Prophets, the Neviim; and the Psalms, the Kethuvim, the writings, the chief part of which was the Psalms. And in all of that Word of God, Jesus reverently found the Scriptures, the prophecies concerning Himself.
The reverence of our Lord toward the Word of God reflects the holy adoration and gratitude and love by which the chosen people of Israel receive from God’s hands these holy and immutable oracles.
Soon after the war between the Arab and the Jew, I visited Israel. One part of the ancient city the Jew won for himself: the tomb of David on Mount Zion. And when I was there, out of gratitude to God the chosen people of the Lord had made that sacred shrine a synagogue. I spent a long, long time in that synagogue, blessed by the hallowed sanctity of that place and by the reverential awe with which those rabbis who had been driven as refugees from around the world had come to that place for worship and adoration. Out of the ark above the tomb, they took the sacred scroll. As they read it, those Jewish rabbis who looked as though they’d stepped out of a book with their long, heavy beards, their skull caps, and according to some of their traditions, their fur hats; as they rolled open the scroll, they would kiss the page as they turned the scroll. Then after having finished the reading, they’d roll it back, and they would kiss the page again as they rerolled the scroll. Then as they clasped it from place to place, they would kiss the clasp. Then they would kiss the borders and the tassels, and reverently they would place it back into the great sheath and kiss the sheath. Then reverently, after kissing it all again, place it in the ark above the tomb of their great king. That reverence is reflected in the attitude of the Son of God toward the Holy Scriptures.
Today, there is common among scholastic academicians to ridicule the Book of Jonah. But to our Lord this was the sign of His resurrection from the dead: “As Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights; so the Son of Man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” [Matthew 12:40]. In the realm of pseudo-scholarship today, it would be unthinkable to look upon Daniel as a prophet. But in the apocalyptic discourse of our Lord in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, our Lord Himself called Daniel “the prophet” [Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14]. It is the common thing among scholastics today to look upon the story of Adam and Eve as a myth, as a legend. But our Lord turned back in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew to Adam and Eve as that sign and symbol of God’s holy purpose for His people throughout all the ages: there is for one man, one woman; and somewhere there is for a woman, a man [Matthew 19:4-6; Genesis 1:27; 2:23-24].
Yea, our Lord said that even the dots and the dashes, even the crossing of the “t” and the dotting of the “i,” even the jot and the tittle of the old manuscripts are sacred, and inviolable, and inspired of God [Matthew 5:18, 2 Timothy 3:16]. In the great Sermon on the Mount, chapter 5 in Matthew, verses 17 and 18, our Lord said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I have come not to destroy, but to fulfill. Verily, verily I say unto thee, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle of the law shall in no wise pass, till all be fulfilled” [Matthew 5:17-18]. Our Lord is avowing there that more certainly than the continuance of this physical universe, the sun in the sky and the earth on which we stand, is the truth and the verity of the almighty, immutable Word of the living God. And according to our Savior, it was by this Word, the Holy Scriptures, that He found the way He must live and the way He must go. “For I say unto you,” said our Lord to His disciples, “that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me”; then He quoted from the prophet the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, “For this, these things concerning Me, have an end” [Luke 22:37]. Could I translate it? “They all have a fulfillment. What I do, what I say, where I go, the things that happen to Me, these must yet be accomplished in Me; for the things that are written in the Word of God must have a fulfillment” [Luke 24:44]. And according to that Book He lived His life. The Word of God in human speech and the life of God in human flesh are inextricably and inseparably connected. According to the Scriptures, Christ lived; according to the Scriptures Christ died; according to the Scriptures Christ was buried; and according to the Scriptures He was raised in triumph from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:2-4].
Jesus and His Bible, how He used it: He used it as a text out of which to preach [Luke 4:16-17]. You people who come to this church are so accustomed to see your pastor open the Bible and read and expound the Word of God that you think that’s the way preachers do. Did you know it is the exceptional preacher in this modern day who will open the Bible and take a text and preach from it? Practically all of the preachers in the pulpits of this world never refer to the Bible except incidentally and never pick it up, never open it, and never read it; least of all begin their message with a passage read from the Holy Word. How did Jesus do? Jesus and His Bible, how did He preach? You have a marvelous instance of it: “And He returned to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” I love to see our people stand up for to read. “And He stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written” [Luke 4:16-17], and then He read Isaiah 61:1 and the first part of verse 2. “And He closed the book and gave it to the minister. And the eyes of all in the congregation were fastened upon Him. And He began to say in His sermon, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” [Luke 4:20-21]. That’s the way Jesus preached. And He opened the book, and He read out of the sacred Scriptures, and then He expounded to His people the truth and the meaning of the Word of God.
He used it for illustrations. All of the rich lore of the Bible lived again in the great truths by which He taught the people. In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew, our Lord recounts the story of the queen of Sheba who came to see Solomon in all his wisdom and in all his glory [Matthew 12:42]. Here in the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, out of which I have just read, He refers to the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath [Luke 4:25-26]. And then in the next breath, He refers to Elisha and the healing of Naaman the Syrian leper [Luke 4:27]. He used it for illustrations. In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” [John 3:14]. In the sixth chapter of the same Gospel of John, He used the illustration of the manna from heaven by which God fed His people in the wilderness. He used it for illustration [John 6:49-50].
He used the Holy Scriptures for warning, for warning. In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, He spoke of Sodom, of Sodom, and the raining of fire and brimstone in judgment upon Sodom [Luke 10:12]. Then in that same chapter He referred to Tyre and to Sidon [Luke 10:13-14]. Then in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, He referred to Noah and to Lot: “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man” [Luke 17:26-30]. He used the Bible for warning.
And He used the Holy Scriptures as the weapon of His warfare against Satan and against enemy opposition. Since children we have been conversant with the story of the temptations, the trials of our Lord in the wilderness [Matthew 4:1-10]. And when Satan tempted the first time to undo the incarnation, and to make bread out of stone [Matthew 4:3], which no man could do, it was only the power of God that could do that; and Jesus came to be a man, and Satan tempts Him to undo the incarnation, and to do what no man, or no man’s life could ever do [Matthew 4:3]. For God said the man is to live by sweat alone, by the work of his hands [Genesis 3:17-19]. But Satan suggests to Him an easier way: “Just turn stone into bread; no sweat, no trial, no agony, no labor.” And the Lord God met him with a word from the Holy Scriptures: Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” [Matthew 4:4]. In the second trial, on top of the temple, the spectacular overwhelmed this whole world, “Cast Yourself down, and angels”—and Satan can quote Scripture wrongly—“the angels will pick Thee up, lest Thou dash Thyself against the stone” [Matthew 4:5-6]. And the Lord quoted again Deuteronomy 6:16, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” [Matthew 4:7]. And the third temptation, on a high mountain, with all the glory of the world and the kingdoms of mankind spread before Him, “This will I give You,” said Satan, “if You will only fall down and worship me” [Matthew 4:8-9]. And the Lord quoted again from the Holy Word, Deuteronomy 6:13, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” [Matthew 4:10]. The weapons of His warfare, the strength of His spiritual understanding, He found courage in the Word of God.
I have, for example, taken the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark as a very typical instance of how the Lord used the Word of God as He walked among those who so bitterly and fiercely opposed Him. The twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, after He had told them the parable [Mark 12:1-9], He said, “Have ye not read this Scripture?” [Mark 12:10-11]—[Psalm 118:22-23]. “Have ye not read this Scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Israel said, God’s people said, “We will have none of this Man. Away with Him, away with Him” [John 19:15], finally, “Crucify Him, crucify Him” [John 19:15]. But our Lord said, “Have ye not read; The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner”: This is what God is able to do, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” [Mark 12:10-11].
Think of the inward strength that came to our Lord in the days of His flesh; when each hour there was fulfilled in His life according to the Word of God. So we continue in this same twelfth chapter. And the Sadducees who ridiculed, they were the modernists of that day, the pseudo-intellectuals in that day, they were the rationalists in that day, they scoffed at the idea of spirit, of angel, of the resurrection of the dead, of the life that was yet to come. When you die, they said, you die like an animal; there is not any glory to be, there is not any other world, there is nothing beyond the scene of this temporal life. Those were the Sadducees. And they brought to Jesus that stock story of this woman who had seven husbands [Mark 12:18-23]. According to Levirate marriage [Deuteronomy 25:5-6], the brother was to raise up seed to his dead brother; and it kept on in the family until seven brothers tried to raise up a son to the first deceased by the same woman. And finally, those seven men, having died, the woman died. “Now,” said the Sadducees, “Ha, ha, ha! Now,” said the Sadducees, “in the resurrection, whose wife is she to be? All seven of them had her; ha, ha, ha!” Why, they had pulverized the Pharisees for a millennium with that question. They had ridiculed the whole idea of a resurrection of the dead with that impossible story. So they brought it to Jesus, “Ha, ha, ha!”
And I want you to look: the Lord bases the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul upon the tense of a verb in the Old Testament Scriptures! It shows you how He considered the immutable Word of God; not only every syllable inspired, not only every word God-breathed [2 Timothy 3:16], but He bases the great doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the dead upon a tense of the verb “to be.” “But,” said our Lord” [Mark 12:26-27], concerning the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, and said, I Am, I Am,” present tense, not past, present tense, not future; I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob!” [Mark 12:26]. Then the Lord teaches His doctrine: “He is not the God of the dead.” God is not the God of dust! God is not the God of defeat! God is not the God of corruption and failure and despair! God is the God of the living! You do greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God” [Mark 12:27]. Isn’t that an amazing thing? He bases His whole doctrine upon the tense of a verb.
We continue in this twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark. One of the lawyers came [Mark 12:28]—George we’ve always had them with us—one of the lawyers came, one of the lawyers came. A lawyer is a gracious gentleman, who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it for himself; that’s the lawyer. Nobody in the world can be a Bible teacher though like a lawyer. You ever get one that’s consecrated, oh, how he can do good for God.
One of them came to Jesus. All their generations they had been waiting the law, what could a man do and still be saved? Can he break this commandment and this one and this one? Or are there some you can’t break and still be saved? They were juggling those laws. So this lawyer brought it to Jesus: “Lord, which is the great commandment?” [Mark 12:28]. And the Lord turns to His Book, and first He quotes the great passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “The first of all the commandments is this, Hear, O Israel”; the shema, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and strength: this is the first and the great commandment” [Mark 12:29-30]. And then our Lord turns to the Bible again, in Leviticus 19:18, and says, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” [Mark 12:31].
And the lawyer said, “Master, Master, Thou hast well said” [Matthew 12:32]. Isn’t that strange, the convicting power of truth? Wherever a man speaks the truth, there is something about the Word and the truth of God that has its own pungent thrust. And that lawyer replied, “Master, well said. To love God and to love one’s neighbor is more than all sacrifice and whole burnt offering” [Mark 12:32-33]. And the Lord said a gracious thing to the lawyer: “Verily I say unto you, Thou art nigh to the kingdom of God” [Luke 12:34]. All in the Book.
Now another instance in this same chapter, the Lord using the Bible: [Mark 12:35-37]: “Jesus answered and said unto the scribes and those that taught in the temple, How say the teachers here that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself says,” then He quotes Psalm 110:1, “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, The Lord God said unto my Lord the Christ, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David therefore in the Spirit called Him Lord; how is He then his Son?” Do you bow down before your son and worship him? Do you bow down before your boy and call him Lord God? Do you? Yet David did. “How is He therefore his Son? And the common people heard Him gladly” [Mark 12:37]. It has been my observation, any time a man will preach the Word of God, and open the Book, and declare what the Lord hath said, people will hear Him gladly.
Now I must hasten, and then we close. Briefly, in this Scripture, what I have said is He used it for His preaching, He used God’s Word for illustrations, He used God’s Word for warning, He used God’s Word as the weapons in His warfare, now I’m saying He used God’s Word to authenticate His mission and His ministry. A typical instance in the thirteenth chapter of John, verses 18 and 19: I do not talk of all of you,” said Jesus,
I know whom I have chosen, and one of you is treacherous: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me.
Now I tell you before it come, that, when it come to pass, ye may believe that I am He.
Back here in the Old Testament it was written, in the Psalms, He that eateth bread with Me, lifts up his hand and his heel against Me [Psalms 41:9]. “Now I am telling you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He” [John 13:19].
The great authentication of the message and ministry of our Lord is the Word of God. Is that not what we read in the text? “And beginning at Moses and through all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” [Luke 24:27]. The authentication of His ministry is the Word of the living God.
And now I close with one other: do you notice that in the teaching of our Lord, if we have any hope of heaven, any deliverance from hell, any forgiveness of sin, if someday we shall see God’s face and live [1 Timothy 6:14-16], it lies in the openness of our heart to the Word of God? Listen to our Lord as He says in the story of Dives and Lazarus, “And Dives said, I pray thee, father, that thou send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Oh my soul let him testify unto them, lest they come also into this place of torment. Raise him from the dead, send him back to my father’s house, and let him plead with my five brothers, lest they come into this awful torment” [Luke 16:22-28]. And Abraham said unto him, “They have Moses and the prophets. They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” [Luke 16:29]. They have the Book. “Oh,” said Dives, “Nay, nay, but if one went unto them from the dead, they would turn, they would repent, they would believe” [Luke 16:30]. And Abraham said unto him, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” [Luke 16:31]. Oh, the awful, awesome responsibility of listening to the Word of God! If we hear not Moses and the prophets, if our hearts are not open to the Word of God, neither would we turn, neither would we believe if one rose from the dead.
O God, if I have any hope in heaven, if I’m ever saved, it lies in my trusting, and accepting, and believing the immutable and enduring and eternal Word of God [1 Corinthians 15:2]. May it be thus to my soul: life, and salvation. And may it be thus to your soul, a resurrection, a glory, a promise unfading, eternal, everlasting. God bless us as we press to our hearts this enduring, living Word of God; Jesus and His Bible.
Now on the first note of this first stanza, somebody you to give his heart to Jesus; somebody you to put his life in the fellowship of the church; as the Spirit of our Lord shall make appeal, as God shall press the invitation to your heart, while we sing this hymn, would you come and stand by me? On the first note of the first stanza, make it now. A couple, a family, one somebody you, as God shall lead in the way, come this morning, come now, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The Book He loved
A. Three Jewish
divisions of Old Testament Scripture
1. Torah – first
five books of Moses, The Law
2. Neviim – The
3. Kethuvim – the
Hagiographa, the holy writings; dominant part is Psalms
B. Jewish reverence for
the Holy Scriptures
C. Unlike modern
theologians, Jesus reflects Jewish reverence for the Bible
1. Story of Jonah
(Matthew 12:39-40, 16:4, Luke 11:29-30)
2. Prophet Daniel
(Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14)
3. Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-6, Genesis 1:27, 2:24)
D. His life lived according
to the Word of God (Luke 22:36-38)
Life of God in flesh and Word of God in speech inseparably connected (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
II. Christ’s use of the Scriptures
A. For preaching (Luke 4:14-22, Isaiah 61:1-2)
illustration (Matthew 12:42, 2 Chronicles 9,
Luke 4:24-27, I Kings 17, 2 Kings 5, John 3:14, Numbers 21:4-9, John 6:32-35)
For warnings (Luke 10:12-14, 17:26-32)
For the weapon of warfare opposing Satan and His enemies (Matthew 4, Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:13, 16, Mark
12:10-11, Psalm 118:32-33, Exodus 3:5, 15, Mark 12:26-27, Deuteronomy 6:4-5,
Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:28-34, Psalm 110:1, Mark 12:35-37)
authentication of His ministry (John 13:18-19,
Psalm 41:9, Luke 24:27)
appeal to us (Luke 16:19-31)