What did Jesus mean when He said He came to fulfill the Law? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
This is one of the most debated passages really. It leads to debates about the view of the Law in the Old Testament and its place in the life of Christians today. Let’s look at the verses. It’s Matthew 5:17-18.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Okay. Well did Jesus abolish the Law for us? One thing to keep in mind is that Gentiles were NEVER under the Law to begin with. This was a debate in Acts 15 and yet these words of Jesus were never brought up.
Okay, but what about Jews? Jews were under the Law and yet Paul and Peter both apparently lived like Gentiles at times at least. Why would they do that?
This gets us to the idea of the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus is not doing away with the Law. He is fulfilling what God really wanted. God really wanted righteousness in His people. The Law could change their outward behavior and while that can change hearts eventually, that normally doesn’t last long term. What is needed is a heart change.
This is what Jesus came to bring about. What He is describing in His kingdom is what happens when that heart change takes place. When we see the Kingdom coming, we will see more than just outward motions. Jesus’s commands in the sermon constantly talk about the status of the heart over the actions.
Jesus fulfilled the Law in that He met its righteous requirements. That doesn’t mean the Law is useless to us today. We see the nature of God revealed in the Law and there are still moral principles in the Law most everyone holds to today. Most of us do agree that you should not steal or you should not murder, for example.
In future entries, we will look at the righteousness that is demanded in the Kingdom. It won’t be my favorite part to look at either. We all fall short.