Jesus, the Son of God, walked on this earth for a third of a century. When one investigates the words He spoke in the flesh, recorded in the four Gospel accounts, it becomes clear He was a diligent student of the Scriptures. The thinking and speech of Jesus were so molded by the Old Testament that—aside from the numerous direct quotations He often makes to it—there are a profusion of incidental references to it in His idiolect (His particular speech habits).
In scolding Capernaum for their impenitence in the face of the many miracles He worked in their midst, Jesus said, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (Matt. 11:23). In His words, Jesus is echoing the message of judgment the Lord gave regarding the king of Babylon centuries earlier: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isa. 14:13-15).
Again, in describing the divisiveness of His message—how individuals of the same family would differ regarding Him—Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Matt. 10:34-35). The Lord is using language from Micah 7:6, where the Assyrian attack on Israel would be so brutal that members of the same family would give each other up to spare themselves: “For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.”
These words were not given as fulfilled prophecies but are examples of the verbiage of Scripture becoming embedded in Jesus’ diction. Perhaps you can think of people you know whose words show a familiarity with the Bible. When someone speeds by her and cuts her off in traffic, I have heard my mother-in-law say, “They’re driving like Jehu!” The reference to Jehu only makes sense to those familiar with 2 Kings 9:20, “And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.” Is my mind so molded by Scripture that I reference it in my daily speech and even employ the words of Scripture in the way I turn a phrase?
It is expected that Jesus would know the words of the Old Testament. After all, He is the Word who became flesh, who is God and was there in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2, 14). In some ways it is no wonder Jesus knew the words of Old Testament books like Isaiah for He was involved in giving those books in the first place (John 12:38-41; Isa. 6:1-10). Yet, Jesus also learned and grew to maturity as a human being. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). As a boy, Jesus was found speaking with the doctors/teachers of the law and answering questions (Luke 2:46). No doubt the words of Scripture were impressed upon His mind as He learned and grew into a man.
As Christians, we are disciples, or followers, of Jesus (Acts 11:26). We are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16). The council could tell that Peter and John, by the boldness of their words, had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Does your speech show you have spent time in His word?
– Mark Day