How did Jesus “Fulfill the Law? This is one of the most seriously mis-understood topics in the bible; the misunderstanding actually originated from the misinterpretation of(Mathew 5, 17).
But before analyzing the above verse, let me share a bit about “what set in motion this misunderstanding among Bible believing Christians.
In the contemporary Christian world, among born-again believers, especially among believers who belong to denominations that originated in the continent of North America, have a tendency to resist any topic related to God’s Holy Laws.
Nowadays, because of this dislike and resistance, preachers and Pastors seldom talk about Obedience and Holiness from the pulpit. It seems like everyone wants to hear a “feel good” message on Sunday and go home happily.
But Why this resistance and dislike among contemporary believers? It is because, they have been erroneously taught by Mainstream Christian Pastors and Preachers that:
“Jesus fulfilled the law” so that we don’t need to keep the Law anymore; an argument based on the misinterpretation of Mathew 5, 17. Not only that, still there are many more scriptures that pastors and preachers misunderstand and misinterpret in order to discourage their flock from Keeping God’s Holy Laws. But, for now, I just want to focus only on Mathew 5, 17.
Yes, In the above verse Jesus very categorically declares that He “did not come to abolish or remove the Law or the Prophets” instead He says “I have come to fulfill them”.
If He did not abolish them, then, The Law and the teachings of the Prophets still have legal validity in the Kingdom of God that is operating on this Planet earth. So, there is no way can anyone teach boldly that “We don’t need to Keep the Law”.
Remember; you are bound to obey God’s Laws if you think, you are a citizen of HIS Kingdom. Anyway, before we get into the details let us examine the word; “Fulfill” what does it mean?
To Fulfill – carry out a duty or role as required, promised, or expected. Or to execute, accomplish, discharge, perform or effectuate
So, when Jesus says – I have come to “fulfill the law” it means, I have come to execute, accomplish or effectuate what the Law requires.
Here, you might wonder what the Law requires? Is it simply obeying the Ten Commandments? No, it is more than that. God’s Holy Laws contain not only the Ten Commandments but also the penalties for breaking those Ten Commandments. You, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, are called to obey the commandments and in case you break them, bear the punishment as well. See, there are different types of Laws in the Bible: For e.g.
- Ten commandments
- Laws Related to Punishment in case one of the Ten Commandments are broken
- Laws related to Temple Worship and Rituals
- Laws related to Social Life
- Laws related to Priests – The Levitical Priesthood.
- Laws Related to Women, Children and Aliens etc.
Among these different types of Laws, Ten Commandments are the most prominent ones and breaking any one of them warrants a punishment; and some punishments are as severe as death Penalty. For e.g.
Bible prescribes Death Penalty for dishonoring Parents, Idol Worship, breaking the Sabbath, committing Adultery, Murder, etc.; and they are linked to the Ten Commandments.
As long as the Ten Commandments exist, the punishment for breaking those commandments also will exist. Please remember, under the New Covenant, the Ten Commandments are written in our hearts.
So, If the Ten Commandments still exist, then, the punishments for breaking them also still exist. Right? And Jesus affirms the eternal nature of these commandments in the following verses.
18For 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. (Mathew 5, 18)
According to the Bible; We all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. See, What Apostle Paul says in Romans:
10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;11there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”( Romans 3, 10-12)
So, if God judges all of us using the standard of HIS Ten Commandments, we all have done something that deserves death penalty and it is a just punishment according to the requirements of God’s Laws; not only that, the judicial process is completed only when that prescribed punishment is executed.
Please Remember; God’s Righteous Laws demand that the offender should be punished and I don’t think this demand is something unusual. Even in the secular world; there is always an equal punishment for an equal crime. It is a generally accepted principle both in the Kingdom of God as well as in the Kingdom of man.
But, instead of punishing us with the death Penalty, our Heavenly Father decides to send HIS only begotten Son to die on the cross on our behalf. So that, not only we are saved from the punishment but also the righteous requirement of the Law could be fully met.
See what Apostle Paul says in Romans 8;
3For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.( Romans 8, 3-4)
Therefore, as it is evident from the above verses, the purpose of Jesus Christ coming into this world as a human being was to die on the cross on behalf of mankind and thereby effectuate or fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law.
That is why JESUS says “I came to Fulfill the Law” and it does not mean that “I came to obey the Ten Commandments” Of course, as a human being, he was bound to obey the Ten Commandments and He did it perfectly without breaking any of them during His entire life on earth. That is why it is written “He was the Lamb of God without blemish”
Saints, let me ask you a question:
When you or your pastor say that “Jesus fulfilled the Law so we don’t need to keep it” what you are saying is: Jesus “fulfilled the Law” by obeying the Ten Commandments and hence I don’t have to keep them anymore. But is it a logical explanation? Does it make sense?
When Jesus Christ walked up on the face of this Earth; He obeyed All the commandments of His Heavenly Father. But, does this exempt you and I from keeping the Commandments of God?
If His obedience exempts you and I from keeping the commandments, then, why did He ask the Rich Young Ruler to keep the commandments if he wanted to inherit Eternal Life? See the verses below:
16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” 17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Mathew 19, 16-17)
I think I have given enough points to explain what it means to “Fulfill the law” in Mathew 5,17. But still I would like to restate the main points.
Saints; Jesus fulfilled the Law means He met the righteous requirements of the Law on behalf of us, the sinners. For e.g. the punishment that the Law required of me was borne by Christ on the cross so that I don’t have to die for my sins.
In other words; Christ Fulfilled the requirement of the Law on behalf of me.
Remember, Christ came into this world not to live as an ordinary Christian like you and me. He came with a mission and accomplished that mission on the Cross of Calvary. Amen.