Matthew 5:17–20 (ESV) “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 say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
How has Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets – rather than “abolishing them? At least in three ways. And as we consider this, remember that our answers cannot contradict His assertion in vs. 20 that no matter what, God’s standard of righteousness has not been relaxed in the slightest degree. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we will need a righteousness that exceeds that of the strictest adherents to the Law can offer up.
But for now – consider this, Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets by:
1. Fulfilling its REQUIREMENTS. If I might use a crude analogy, Adam, was captain of Team Mankind. And when the captain of the team broke the rules so that the team lost the game – the WHOLE team lost the game. We all lost. And, we all suffered unspeakable consequences. The team didn’t lose neutrally – we lost because we sinned. We disobeyed. And every time we still sin, we demonstrate our concurrence and approval of Adam’s actions. We show we would do the very same. We rebelled. But the 2nd Adam, is putting a new team together. Not one assembled by natural generation – being born into it like Team Mankind. This team is hand picked and the members are adopted in. But this time, the Captain has already played the entire game – and not only won it, but incurred not the slightest penalty. And as a result, all of those on Team Redeemed – enjoy the victory won by the Captain. His perfect fulfillment of all – is ascribed to the whole team, even though we weren’t even members yet. What a Savior!
2. Fulfilling its PROPHECIES. Everything said of the The Seed of the woman who was to crush the serpent’s head – He has done. Every type, every shadow, every forward look portrayed throughout the whole of Holy Writ He has personally brought to its conclusion. He is unmistakably and incontrovertibly the One. The subject of God’s Word. The outshining of His glory. The exegesis of God. God with us. He has fulfilled all that was spoken of Him. And even the small bits pointing yet to His return, we might confidently know He will yet accomplish. How do we know this? When He fulfilled rising from the dead!
3. Fulfilling its PENALTIES. Isaiah 53:1–12 (ESV) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.