Jesus the Proof-Texter

It was the ultimate confrontation between good and evil and absolutely everything in the human cosmos was at stake … and possibly beyond.

The temptation, of course. I’m not even sure the modifer “of Jesus” is necessary. This is the temptation.

Catching Jesus at His worst – which still pretty doggone perfect – Satan plies the lonely, mostly-starved young rabbi-to-be with his best shots. Scripture lets us in on three of them.

And Jesus answers them all the same way.

With proof-texts.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I positively have an aversion to catching myself using proof-texts. It offends me less when others do it than when I do – because I truly and deeply value scripture in its full context. I love that so much of it is narrative. I love the story, the back-story, the characters, the conflicts, the values at stake, the gain that can be achieved and the loss that is risked.

I respect context as a would-be and occasional writer. Sometimes that context can be too deep and exhaustive for its value to be included in a blog post, though. And sometimes, scripture just says what it says – whether it’s in context or not.

My guess is that Satan was intimately familiar with it, context and all.

After all, when Jesus’ first and second response is to quote scripture, the devil starts quoting it right back at Him.

So – there are devilish interpretations of scripture, after all. (Notice that Satan quotes a Psalm as if it were a law to be obeyed and proven. Jesus responds from Deuteronomy as if it were a law. Which it certainly would be.)

Do we put the Lord to the test when we insist on interpretations of scripture that aren’t His? I’m betting so.

When we’re presented with interpretations which we cannot see as His, is it permissible to respond with short, simple, devoid-of-context proof-texts from scripture?

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One thought on “Jesus the Proof-Texter

  1. Keith, I think this question is much like the one from your previous post. Yes, Jesus was a “proof-texter” but he was the One who was perfectly able to “handle the word of truth.” Indeed, He wrote it, so of course, His usage/interpretation, whether He includes context or not, is going to be perfectly accurate ALL THE TIME. I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes from the movie “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” where Aslan and the White Witch are discussing what is to become of the “traitor”; He tells her “Do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch! <>I was there when it was written.”<> (See John 1:1)We, on the other hand, must realize that interpreting His word will not always be easy (2 Pet. 3:15-16), and that we all have the ability to make mistakes (Rom. 3:23), to misinterpret. Therefore, I think we need to be cautious when choosing not to include a scripture’s context. But it is a learning process, in which we must meditate on His word (Ps. 1:1-3). The more we study His word, the more accurately I believe we will be able to understand it (2 Tim. 2:15), and use it to teach and uplift others (2 Tim. 3:16).Just a few of my thoughts, based on my own interpretations, of course… 😉

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