And Jesus answered unto him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’…”
And Jesus answered and said unto him, “It is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’…”
And Jesus answering said unto him, “It is said, ‘Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God'” (Luke 4:4, 8, 12).
As Jesus submits to the temptations of the Devil in the wilderness, it is interesting to note the way that Jesus responds to each temptation. With each temptation, He responds with “it is written,” quoting Old Testament Scripture.
As the Incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14), Jesus has no such obligation to do so. He has the authority to say “no” to the Evil One on His own merit (cf. Matthew 7:29). Nevertheless, He responds by appealing to a standard beyond Himself– the revealed Word.
This is not the only time that Jesus makes reference to the Scriptures. In fact, He constantly appeals to the Scriptures when defending Himself against His critics (cf. Matthew 12:1-8, Matthew 19:3-6, Matthew 21:12-13, etc.). By appealing to the revealed Word, Jesus legitimates it and provides an example for us.
Almost twenty centuries have passed since Jesus, the Incarnate Word, walked the earth. The only place that we can find testimony regarding Jesus the Incarnate Word is within the written revealed Word, since all witnesses and apostles have now passed on (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, John 21:23). Therefore, the written revealed Word– the Scriptures as found in the Bible– are quite important for us! We learn about the life, death, resurrection, and lordship of the Incarnate Word within the Scriptures. We learn how to serve the risen Lord and live like the Incarnate Word through the message of Scripture (1 John 2:1-6). The Scriptures, as the written revealed Word, point to and help us understand the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, so that we may believe in Him and have life in His name (John 20:31).
The Scriptures are said to equip the man of God for every good work, appropriate for encouragement, exhortation, rebuke, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is evident, therefore, that we must know what the Scriptures teach if we are going to be able to believe in Jesus and to do His will (2 Timothy 2:15)!
Therefore, just as Jesus was prepared with an answer from Scripture for every temptation of the Devil, so must we prepare answers from Scripture for every argument and temptation that comes against us (2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Peter 3:15). We must understand that just as Satan attempted to quote Scripture to Jesus and distort its purpose, many times people will also quote Scripture and distort its purpose. And, just as Jesus did, we must demonstrate with Scripture what is true, understanding all things within the sum of God’s truth (Psalm 119:160).
Jesus understood what was written in Scripture and was not afraid to quote it or live it. Let us be the same!
Ethan R. Longhenry