Have you ever heard someone say, “I love Jesus, but not the Bible”?
Sometimes I think I know what are people saying when they say that, and sometimes I’m not so sure.
I feel that making a strong distinction between loving God and loving the Bible is a lot like me saying about my wife, Janet: “You know, I love her so much… But when she OPENS her MOUTH… Mmmm? Not so much! I love her… Just not when she TALKS…”
I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t go over well in my home. That kind of attitude doesn’t describe a healthy relationship.
When people say, “I love Jesus, but not the Bible,” it kind of feels the same! It sounds like these people “love” Jesus, just not when He talks! They love the “idea” of Jesus, but they don’t want a God that actually speaks and has an opinion.
Sometimes they’re saying, “Jesus died for me. Jesus rose again. Jesus forgave my sin and leads my life. I have a relationship with Jesus. Jesus is my Lord. Yes, the Bible is God’s inspired Word, but my faith and hope is in Jesus.”
But many times, I think people are saying something else. Sometimes I think they’re saying, “It really doesn’t matter to me what the Bible says… me and Jesus are cool. I can live life the way I want, because I have relationship with Jesus. The Bible, on the other hand, is outdated, antiquated, quite ridiculous in places. I’m not going to subject my life to a 1,900 — 3,400-year-old book. But I’m cool with Jesus.”
That sounds a whole lot like, “I love my spouse, but not when she talks…” And I don’t think that JIVES with God.
Matthew 5:17-20 is one of the most important sections in the Sermon On The Mount. If you get this, everything else starts to come together. If you miss this, everything else becomes an uphill battle.
The rest of the Sermon On The Mount flows out of these four verses. Everything that follows is basically Jesus elaborating on and applying what He believes about the Word of God:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, 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. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:17-20 NIV
When Jesus tells us something, we should pay attention, right? Well, when Jesus tells us the Bible mattered to Him, it’s got to matter to us!
He’s the central theme. The goal of the Bible isn’t to give us more INFORMATION, but to produce more TRANSFORMATION.
Because Jesus wasn’t neutral when it came to the Bible, He had some pretty radical beliefs about the Word of God.
When Jesus talked about “…the Law and the prophets…” He was specifically talking about the Old Testament. The “Law” refers to the first five books of the Bible. Jewish people call it the Torah. The “prophets” refers to the rest of the Old Testament.
Jesus said, “Do not think I’ve come to abolish the Law or the prophets…”
The word “abolish” means, demolish, tear apart, tear down, dismantle, destroy or to set aside as of no value.
Jesus said, “I didn’t come to demolish, tear down, dismantle, destroy or set aside this book… I didn’t come to make it irrelevant… I came to fulfill it.”
We’ll talk more about “fulfill” in just a moment, but right now, it’s critical to note that Jesus had a HIGH VIEW of the Bible.
In Verse 18, Jesus doubled down on what He actually thought about the Bible when He said, “For truly I tell you…”
In other words: “This is for real! You can take this to the bank!”
“…until heaven and earth disappear…” — Until the end of time!
“…not the smallest letter…”
In the Greek, the “smallest letter” is literally “iota.” It’s the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet. We’ve even picked up the word in English. In English, iota refers to a very small or an infinitesimal amount. For instance, we use it like this: “Nothing she said made an iota of sense…” Or, “There’s not an iota of truth in anything that dude said…”
In the Hebrew, the smallest letter is “yod” or “yodh” and it’s about the size of an apostrophe.
When Jesus talks, “smallest letter” He literally means SMALL. In the next statement, He clarifies it even more…
“…not the least stroke of a pen…"
The “stroke of a pen” refers to a serif, a minute mark at the end of a Hebrew letter. It’s not even the whole letter, it’s just a mark that’s part of the letter. Here’s what Jesus said about the dependability, reliability, relevance, authority and permanence of the Word of God.
“…I tell you, 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." —Matthew 5:18
According to Jesus, not only are the words in the Bible reliable and true, you can even count on the smallest letter and most minute mark! It’s all reliable, dependable, permanent and authoritative!
In the four verses we just read (Matthew 5:17-20), Jesus lets us know exactly what he thinks about the Bible.
He affirmed that He believed it’s infallible — it’s without error and absolutely trustworthy and sure.
He believed that the Word of God is indestructible. It will never be destroyed.
He believed it was reliable.
Sometimes we struggle with what we believe about the Bible, but you need to know Jesus was “ALL IN” when it came to the Word of God. He believed that people like Adam, Eve, Noah and Jonah were actual, historical figures. He believed that the Bible could be trusted.
For instance, He talked about Adam and Eve (Matt 19:4-5). He talked about Abel and Zechariah (Lk 11:51). He referenced Noah (Matt 24:37-38), Abraham (Jn 8:56), Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt 10:15, 11:23-24), Lot (Lk 17:23-32), Isaac and Jacob (Matt 8:11), the manna Israel ate in the wilderness (Jn 6:31), and the serpent Moses raised on a pole (Jn 3:14).
Jesus talked about David (Matt 22:43), Solomon (Matt 6:29, 12:42), Elijah (Lk 4:25-26), Elisha (Lk 4:27), Jonah (Matt 12:39-41), and Moses (Matt 8:4).
And when Jesus talked about all of these places and people there was never the slightest hint or indication that He questioned their actuality or historicity. He talked about them like they were straight-up, straight-forward, historical fact!
If Jesus believed these people were historical, I believe they are historical! If He believed the Bible can be trusted, I believe it can be trusted! Why? Because any “man” who can predict His own DEATH, BURIAL and ultimate RESURRECTION, and then, PULL IT OFF; then I’M GOING WITH ANYTHING that guy SAYS!
Come back tomorrow as we continue this blog series.