Read John 5:24-30 …
Recently this quote came to my attention in a book that seeks to describe five different ways that people use when approaching the Scriptures, to discern the meaning therein, and find application for their own life and times. One of the authors was speaking from a grammatico-historical interpretative method which, as the name suggests, seeks to understand how the language of the time is used and the historical situation. Understanding those two aspects of the scriptural record will then form a foundation from which responsible interpretation of the text can be made. The author then observed this about those with a “high view of Scriptures;”
“They will look for examples to imitate, commands to obey, promises to claim, dangers to avoid, truths to believe, and praises or prayers to offer to God.”[i]
In this statement one actually recognizes the method of Jesus as He interacted with … well … just about everyone – from the Apostles on one side to the Jewish sects on the other. From the statement made above, this would indicated that Jesus had a high view of the Scriptures and used those scriptures to influence His decisions, interactions, and (what we would term) theology.
Examples and commands are the easier of the set to observe. Jesus appealed to the example of the Priests working in the Temple on the Sabbath to show His disciples had authority to “work” on that day by picking grain (Matt. 12:1-9). Also Jesus appealed to historical events to teach a lesson about the need for repentance in the face of God’s judgment (Matt. 11:21; Luke 13:1-5). Appealing to commands was also part of Jesus’s hermeneutical method. During His temptations in the wilderness Jesus answered Satan with direct commands from the OT, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. Of significant import for the contemporary Christian, Jesus also appeals to imperatives in the OT to highlight the command to love and serve God only, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Matt. 22:36-40).
Along with appealing to examples and commands, Jesus also recognized that there were promises to be claimed when He used metaphors to liken Himself to bread, light, or a vine (John 6:35; 8:12; 15:5). When considering dangers to be avoided Jesus used a very familiar literary device – reversal of fortune – to help those He taught to appreciate how the actions of this life effect the position in the next (Luke 16:14-31). Again, when thinking about truths to be believed Jesus tells a series of parables that were designed to describe the importance and growth of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 13:18-33). Jesus may not have recounted specific prayers and praises from the OT, but one can obviously see the importance Jesus placed upon the importance of God the Father in both His prayers and actions (Matt. 26:36-56; Mark 11:15-18; et al.).
The record of the Gospels shows Jesus, by His communications and actions, placing a premium on the words of the Scriptures – from helping others understand how to rightly divide the word (Matt. 5-7), to appealing to the Scriptures in an effort to help other understand who He was (John 5:39), even using the Scriptures as a teaching tool after His resurrection (Luke 24:13-27). Jesus certainly used a method to interpret those scriptures that applied to Him and His ministry, which is exactly what we should do to understand how we should act and what we should believe in the Church of Christ.
[i] Craig L. Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” In Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views, eds. Stanley E. Porter and Beth M. Stovell (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012.), 28.