A number of times during His earthly ministry, Jesus responded to questions with, “It is written…” (7 times in Matthew, 4 times in Mark, 5 times in Luke, 1 time in John). In the Bible, we also read of many time when Jesus quoted the truths of God from the Hebrew Scriptures, including:
- The teachers in the Temple were astounded by His understanding and answers (Luke 2:42, 46–47).
- Jesus used God’s Word to resist the devil (Matt 4:1–11, Luke 4:1-13) at the beginning of His ministry.
- Jesus called upon God’s Word to respond to the Pharisees (Matt 22:41–46 et.al.) at the end of His earthly life.
The Holy Scriptures give a record of Jesus quoting from every book of the Pentateuch and eight of God’s prophets. So which book was Jesus’ favorite? Or perhaps a better question, from which book did Jesus quote most often?
Many will be quick to suggest it was Deuteronomy because of their familiarity with Jesus’ responses to Satan with “it is written.” While it’s true that Jesus used the powerful words from Deuteronomy to silence the Devil, it was not the book that Jesus quoted the most. That distinction goes to the Hebrew song book.
The Book of Psalms.
The Book of Psalms is the most read book of the Bible (Read What is the Most Popular Book in the Bible? The Least Popular Book?) and it’s words were quoted more often by Jesus than the words from any other book. Jesus used the psalmists’ words when…
- He was asked for a sign to show who He is (Ps 78:24, John 6:32-33)
- the Jews wanted to stone Him for claiming to be God. (Ps 82:6, John 10:34).
- He called Himself the chief cornerstone (Ps 118:22-23, Matt 21:42, John 2:10, Luke 20:17).
- countering the Pharisees on several occasions (Ps 8:2, 110:1, Matt 21:16, 22:44, Mark 12:36, 14:62, Luke 20:42-43).
- foretelling Jerusalem’s destruction (Ps 118:26; Matt 23:39, Luke 13:35).
- talking about his betrayal (Ps 41:9, John 13:18).
- telling that He would be hated without cause (Ps 35:19, 69:4, John 15:25).
- Pilate asked if He is the son of God (Ps 110:1, Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36).
- dying on the cross: (Ps 22:1; Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34).
- committing his spirit to His Father (Ps 31:5, Luke 23:46).
- speaking about those who try to work their way into the Kingdom (Ps 6:9, Matt 7:23).
- speaking of the hate the world has for Him (Ps. 35:19; 69:4, John 15:25)
- speaking of the sorrow of His soul (Ps 42:5,9-11, 43:5, Matt 26:38, Mark 14:34)
- speaking of Man’s reward for his works (Ps 62:12, Matt 16:27)
- speaking of the manna God gave to their forefathers (Ps 78:24, John 6:31)
- telling about the time they will see Him again (Ps 118:25-26, Matt 23:39)
Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures well. While He quoted most often from the book of Psalms, He also quoted from many other books. Deuteronomy comes in second for the book most often quoted, with Isaiah and Exodus ranking third and fourth respectively. Take a few minutes and review all the quotes of Jesus during the time He was preparing Israel to see Him as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.
Jesus quoted from Genesis when speaking of God’s order and purpose in creation. First He affirmed that God made man, both male and female (Gen 1:27, Matt 19:4; Gen 5:2, Mark 10:6) and that man and woman were to become one (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5, Mark 10:7-8).
Exodus ranks high on the quotes list of Jesus. The second book of the Torah, Exodus, is a very important book about the history of God’s people and repeatedly Jesus used words from this book to remind the people of His day of God’s faithfulness, deliverance, and provision. Jesus referenced . . .
- the burning bush incident when explaining the resurrection (Ex 3:6, 15, Matt 22:32, Mark 12:26, Luke 20:37).
- the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:3, Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8; Ex 20:7, Luke 4:16, 23:55-56; Ex 20:12, Matt 15:4-9; 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ex 20:12-16, Matt 5:21-22, 27; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ex 20:14, Matt 5:27-28; 19:18; Mark 10:11-12, 19; Luke 16:18; 18:20; Ex 20:16, Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ex 20:17, Luke 12:15; Ex 21:17, Matt 15:4, Mark 7:10)
- the importance of keeping a vow (Ex 30:7, Matt 5:33).
- the well-known teaching of “eye for an eye” before telling his disciples to turn the other cheek (Ex 21:24; Matt 5:38).
Leviticus is about holy living. Jesus referenced it a number of times to teach about honesty and making vows (Lev 19:12, Matt 5:33), about the command to love thy neighbor (Lev 19:18, Matt 5:43,19:19, 22:39, Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31), and about the law of retaliation (Lev 24:20, Matt 5:38).
In speaking about keeping one’s oath Jesus quoted (Matt 5:33) from Numbers 30:2 as well as Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.
Many are familiar with Jesus’ quotes from the book of Deuteronomy when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Deut 6:13, 16, 8:3; Matt 4:4, 7, 10; Luke 4:4, 8, 12). He also quoted this book many other times.
- When summing up the law and the prophets: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Mark 12:29-33; Luke 10:27).
- When citing the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:7, 6:13, Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8; Deut 5:11; Luke 4:16; 23:55-56; Deut 5:16; Matt 15:4-9; 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Deut 5:17; Matt 5:21-22; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Deut 5:18; Matt 5:27-28; 19:18; Mark 10:11-12, 19; Luke 16:18; 18:20; Deut 5:20; Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Deut 5:21; Luke 12:15; Deut 6:4-5, Mark 12:29-30; Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37)
- When discussing divorce (Deut 24:1-3; Matt 5:31, 19:7; Mark 10:4).
- When defining church discipline (Deut 19:15; Matt 18:16).
- When telling that man is to fear God (Deut 6:13, Matt 4:10, Luke 4:8; Deut 6:16, Matt 4:7, Luke 4:12).
- When telling that man is to live by the Word of God (Deut 8:3, Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4) and to keep his word (Deut. 19:16-19, Matt 5:33).
Jesus quoted from the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Isaiah has often been called “the evangelical prophet” because he says more about the coming of the Messiah and the redemptive work of Jesus than any other book of the Old Testament. Consequently, there are many important and favorite passages in this book, and it was clearly a favorite of Jesus as evidenced when…
- He explained His reason for using parables to teach (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10).
- He rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their lip service to God (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9; Mark 7:6-7).
- He cleansed the temple by overturning the tables of the money changers (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).
- He told the parable of the vineyard (Isaiah 5:1; Matthew 21:33, Mark 12:1, Luke 20:9).
- He told the purpose of His earthly ministry (Is 61:1-2; Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18-19, 7:22).
- He told of the works He was doing (Isa 35:5-6, Luke 7:22).
- He told of the beginning of sorrows (Isa 34:4, Luke 21:26).
- He told of cosmic changes in end times (Isa 13:10, Matt 24:29, Mark 13:24-25)
- He told of His death (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37).
- He told that His ministry will draw people to Him (Isaiah 54:13; Jn 6:45).
- He told that salvation had come to them ( Isa 62:11, Matt 21:5).
Jesus quotes Isaiah to highlight the disconnect between God and the people, but he also quoted Isaiah to remind people of the comfort God will bring through Him as the Lamb of God and the reigning King.
Jeremiah: Jesus quoted the prophet Jeremiah when He spoke of the lack of understanding of the people (Jer 5:21, Mark 8:18) and the purpose of God’s house and the people’s abuse of it (Jer 7:11, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46).
Daniel is an important book of end times prophesy and Jesus quoted from this book when speaking of judgment of the unredeemed (Dan 3:6, Matt13:42, 50), of signs that will appear before He comes again (Dan 7:13, Matt 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26,14:62), of the abomination of desolation when the Antichrist is revealed (Dan 9:27, Matt 24:15), and of what they should do in response (Dan 11:31, Mark 13:14).
Hosea: Jesus told that He came for sinners, not the righteous (Hos 6:6, Matt 9:13, Matt 12:7) and of calamity in the end times (Hos 10:8, Luke 23:30)
Jonah: Jesus told of the sign of His death and resurrection that would be given the people (Jonah 2:17, Matt 12:40)
Micah: Jesus told that He would bring division (Mic 7:6, Matt 10:35-36).
Zechariah: Jesus told that the disciples would desert Him (Zec 13:7, Matt 26:31, Mark 14:27).
Malachi: Jesus told that John was sent to prepare His way (Mal 3:1, Matt 11:10, Luke 7:27) and that He fulfilled (in type) the work of Elijah (Mal 4:5-6, Matt 17:11).
A Lesson for All of Us
- Jesus was quick to wield His Sword, which is the Word of God. (Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12)
- Jesus was able to answer questions posed to Him with, “it is written,” because He knew God’s Word.
- Jesus was strengthened and empowered by God’s Word to face any situation, including death on the cross.
The question for all of us is, do we know the Word of God well enough to quickly recall it in any situation? Do we hide His Word in our hearts and allow it to fill our minds and direct our words and actions?
Commit to start reading your Bible, or to start reading it more often. We speak to God when we pray, but He speaks to us most directly and most clearly when we read His Word. The more we read, the more we learn about Jesus and His will and ways, His purpose and plan for our lives. Commit, today, to learn God’s truths so you can be ready always to give an answer that begins with “It is written…”
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