What do we know of Jesus’ use of the Hebrew scriptures?

    “What do we know of Jesus’ use of the Hebrew scriptures?” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 23

    What do we know of Jesus’ use of the Hebrew scriptures?

    Dr. Ellis T. Rasmussen, assistant dean, College of Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University: Jesus not only used the scriptures frequently himself, but he also recommended that others use them; indeed, he chastized those who should have been able to use them and apparently did not.

    In almost any Bible handbook, or in the appendix to some Bibles, one may find tabulated the prophecies from the Old Testament concerning the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled. There are over 30 aspects of his life, from his birth to his resurrection and ascension, tabulated in such lists, citing more than 50 different passages of the Old Testament. The quotations are found in more than 70 different passages of the New Testament. Too much space would be required to cite them all here; but anyone interested can watch for them as he reads the New Testament, even if he does not have a tabulation of them.

    Jesus quoted prophecies about the Messiah and indicated ways in which he was fulfilling them. The writers of the New Testament added others to those that Jesus himself quoted.

    Jesus cited principles taught by the holy scriptures that he considered still to be valid. These concern such matters as love of God, love of neighbor, observance of the Ten Commandments, regard for the temple, etc.

    Some readers of the New Testament, when they read of his disparagement of traditional interpretations of the law, or of his criticism of the additions to the law in the traditions of the elders, mistakenly think that Jesus was disparaging the Old Testament. It is not true. Jesus said, for instance, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.” (Matt. 5:43.) He was quoting what was traditionally said, not citing a statement actually written in the law.

    He did indeed, at times, defy certain applications of the law. He believed it was righteous to do good works, for instance, on the Sabbath day. He did not hesitate to associate with the poor, the sinful, the needy, or the sick, some of whom, others felt, he should not have touched or associated with.

    Jesus authenticated the teachings of the prophets as being inspired and often authenticated doctrines that he taught by reference to the holy scriptures.

    All of this is, of course, not surprising, in view of the fact that Jesus said of his mission, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (3 Ne. 12:17; Matt. 5:17.) We who believe that all the prophets since the world began have spoken concerning the coming of the Messiah and the atonement find it consistent that Jesus would have high regard for the prophetic truths in the law, the prophets, and the writings. (See Mosiah 13:33; Jacob 7:11.)