Jesus fulfilled the Law

by Jeff Patterson

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18

Since the beginning there have always been laws. Even in the Garden God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree that was in the middle of the garden. So what does the law have to do with Christ’s advent? It is because the law is one of the reasons for which He came to earth. The Bible gives numerous purposes for the coming of Jesus to this earth. I have found at least twenty such reasons, but the first reason that Jesus gave for His coming was that He came to fulfill the Law. He expounds on this in the section of Scripture called the Sermon on the Mount.

In Matthew 5-7 our Lord corrects the wrong teachings of the Pharisees concerning the law. The Pharisees, who were beloved by the common man, equated their own pharisaical traditions with the Law itself. However Jesus, in correcting the people’s misunderstanding of the law, made it quite clear that He did not come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it. It was a common belief back then that when the Messiah would come He would do away with the Old Testament Law and replace it with a new set of laws and ordinances. Jesus refutes this thinking; and in fact, He is quite emphatic that not the smallest jot or tittle, which are the smallest letters in the Hebrew alphabet, would pass away before being fulfilled. Christ’s coming does not cause the Old Testament to become obsolete, but rather the Messiah will “fill up the Law’s intent and show the goal to which it leads,” which is what it means to “fulfill.”

So why is this important for us today? A simple answer to this question is that without Jesus fulfilling the law, we would still be under the law and helplessly trying to work our way to heaven. By seeing that Jesus fulfilled the Law, we are enabled to see its relation to our lives today. For example, since Christ did not abolish the Law (in the sense that certain parts of it are cast off completely), then we can understand that even today God has a demand for atonement for sin. Now we obviously do not sacrifice animals today. Why not? It is because Jesus, who is the end of the sacrificial system, has come! Our Lord is the goal of the sacrifices, and now we obey our Father’s demand for atonement by approaching Him through the shed blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-18).

When we understand that Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets, we then are able to see the glory of Christ shining more clearly. Christ has a magnificent relation to all that was written in the Bible, which is not surprising because He is called the Word of God incarnate. All Scripture points to Christ, and He came to accomplish what the Law required. Let’s remember to praise Him this Christmas for coming to fulfill the Law on our behalf.