“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. Matthew 5:17
This ancient sentence by Jesus has deep implications for our lives today. In it, He puts the old covenants (the codes of the Old Testament) and the new covenant (in Him) in their proper places.
See, if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ, it is He who has done all the work. To paraphrase something said at Valley Creek Church yesterday, living in faith in Jesus means He has changed your identity, that He has made it possible to have a direct relationship with our creator, and that He gives us a new purpose in life, namely to release His kingdom into the world. All of our godly activities in this life, from family to work to vacation to worship to whatever, fall within all this. If we hold onto old sins, dysfunctional relationships, or lesser purposes, it isn’t Jesus doing it. It’s us following some petty evil. Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets: all the commands that He, as God, gave through all the Old Testament prophets. He never violated one.
And neither should we. As a way to obligingly worship God, none of us under Jesus’ new covenant are required to keep all those old Jewish commands. As a way to honor and worship God, all of us under Jesus’ new covenant should be willing to keep all those old Jewish commands. This isn’t to earn our way to heaven, or favor in Jesus’ eyes. We can’t do that. It’s impossible, and would fly in the face of His grace.
But we should be willing to. And we should try and do. As He remakes us, He calls us to be holy as He is holy. That doesn’t happen by chance. Jesus purposefully lived in holy ways to fulfill every God-given law to give His Father glory and praise. He proved it can be done. Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?
Mind you, we aren’t perfect and Jesus lived perfectly. All of us have already messed it up beyond repair; our imperfections are rife. But when Jesus died for us, He did everything to make it possible for us to be holy and righteous because that’s what He makes us. It’s not us doing it: it’s Him. He proved it by rising from death, dying before that, and living a perfect life in fulfillment of all Old Testament laws, codes, and commands before that, too.
In this way, Jesus’ reminder that He didn’t come to abolish the law but to complete it still matters for us. He said this to a large crowd during the Sermon on the Mount. It mattered then; it matters still.
For more reading: 1 Peter 1:15-17, Matthew 5:18
Lord Jesus, Your words matter more than anything, reminding us that You lived to fulfill all God’s law.