As a pastor and theologian, one of my favorite teachings is Jesus’s earthly ministry. Throughout my years in the Christian ministry, I’ve encountered numerous controversies surrounding whether Jesus came to fulfill or abolish the Law. Some theologians argue that he intended to do away with the Law based on certain teachings. However, Jesus himself stated that he came not to abolish, but to fulfill the Law. This article aims to provide insights into how Jesus fulfilled the Law.
Understanding Jesus’s Fulfillment of the Law
Let’s explore what it means when we say that Jesus fulfilled the Law and examine which specific laws he fulfilled. By doing so, we will refer to the Bible to locate the verses that substantiate Jesus’s fulfillment of the Law. Additionally, we’ll address questions such as whether Jesus contradicted the Law of Moses, whether he abolished the Old Testament laws, and whether Christians are still bound by those laws.
Where in the Bible is Jesus’s Fulfillment of the Law mentioned?
According to the book of Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus explicitly stated that he came to fulfill the Law. He said, “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. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Understanding the Fulfillment of the Law
Jesus fulfilled the Law by being the only human who lived a perfect life without sin. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus did not break any of the Laws of Moses; instead, he explained why we should also strive to obey them.
In Romans 13:8, it is stated, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” We all know that Jesus’s ultimate act of love was sacrificing himself for us (John 3:16). His selfless act, as described in Romans, fulfills the Law.
What laws did Jesus fulfill? See below
The Laws Fulfilled by Jesus
Jesus fulfilled various laws, including his birth in Bethlehem, which fulfilled the prophecy from the Old Testament. All the Messiah’s prophecies were realized in Jesus Christ, making him the epitome of the Law due to his sinless nature. Romans 10:4 states, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Additionally, Jesus observed ceremonial and moral laws. Even his sacrificial death fulfilled a law prophesied in Isaiah. Therefore, Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to build upon it. Through his death and suffering, he completed the Old Covenant and established the new one.
In What Ways Did Jesus Fulfill the Law?
As mentioned earlier, Jesus fulfilled the laws by bringing to fruition the prophecies from the New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem, as prophesied in the book of Micah. Moreover, Jesus fulfilled all the ceremonial rituals practiced in the Old Testament. He accepted baptism from John the Baptist, just like any other Jew would.
Furthermore, Jesus adhered to the Law by being circumcised on the eighth day, as per Jewish tradition. He also attended the synagogue, where he read the scrolls, much like the practices in the Old Testament. The ultimate way Jesus fulfilled the Law was through his crucifixion, which saved humanity, exactly as prophesied in the book of Isaiah.
Did Jesus Contradict the Law of Moses?
Many wonder whether Jesus contradicted the Law of Moses due to his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Often, he would say, “You have heard that it was said…,” followed by, “But I tell you….” This might lead some to believe that Jesus aimed to abolish the Law of Moses.
However, in Matthew 5:17, Jesus explicitly stated that he did not come to abolish any law but to fulfill them. Most Bible scholars and readers agree that Jesus intended to provide us with the reason behind the Law, rather than negate it.
For instance, in Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus expands on the Law that prohibits murder. He begins by saying, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'” Jesus then explains that even being angry with one’s neighbor warrants judgment. From this passage, we see that Jesus did not contradict the Law of Moses; instead, he affirmed it and offered further insights.
Did Jesus do away with the Old Testament laws? See below
Did Jesus Do Away with the Old Testament Laws?
As mentioned earlier, Jesus made it clear that he did not come to abolish the Old Testament laws but to fulfill them. One significant way he accomplished this was by dying on the cross for humanity. In the Old Testament, priests had to offer sacrifices whenever believers strayed. Jesus, however, fulfilled this Law by becoming the sacrificial lamb ─ the sinless and perfect Lamb who paid the price for all our debts. Consequently, Jesus did not abolish the need for sacrifices to renew a covenant after sinning; rather, he fulfilled this Law by becoming the ultimate Lamb himself.
Do Christians Still Follow the Old Testament Laws?
Christians do not need to follow all the Laws of the Old Testament that Jesus has already fulfilled. One crucial law that Christians no longer need to heed is the requirement to offer sacrifices for sins. Jesus fulfilled this Law by sacrificing himself on the cross, marking the end of certain traditions associated with sinning. As Jesus uttered his last breath on the cross, he declared, “It is finished.”
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Continue reading to explore the significance of Jesus’s fulfillment of the Law and its implications for Christians today.