Jesus said, “Don’t imagine that I’ve come to abolish the Law or the Prophetic Writings; I haven’t come to abolish them, but to fulfil them.”
— Matthew 5:17 (USC)
The Incarnation of God, having come to tabernacle with us and set us free by truth, does not in any way, let us off the hook. We all deserve judgment for failing to meet the requirements of the Law – even if that Law is now under the footstool of grace. Jesus’ coming changed nothing as far as the Law and the Prophetic Writings was concerned; the Lord’s coming meant that, finally, the Law was complete. And that is good news!
Because Jesus’ coming has completed the legislative transaction in the sight of God, surely we can stand before the Father, on that day, and be received into God.
But not because we have obeyed the Law.
Not because we are good of our own works, attitudes, abilities, or nature.
We are received into God for the plain reason that Jesus is the completion of the Law and the Prophetic Writings.
The point of this verse is Jesus is correcting his hearers incorrect assumptions – “Here he comes; our Lord will relax the Law and make it more palatable somehow.” But Jesus did not come to relax anything. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is every example of how our hearts are central to obeying the will of the Law.
The Law is written on our hearts and in our minds (Jeremiah 31:31-34). And our devotion to Jesus compels us to know what fulfilling the Law means in our immediate context, through prayer.
Prayerfulness is the absolute denominator of discovering the moment’s need of the Law. His Holy Spirit will speak to us and illuminate our thinking.
Let’s never think that Jesus came to make it easier to please God. That’s why his was a perfect sacrifice. He pleases God for us; on our behalf.
We daren’t cheapen grace by thinking we can do enough to please God. We cannot. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophetic Writings so we would not need to.
Let’s thank God, instead, that, in his wisdom, he planned a way for us to satisfy him when we could never, of our own, satisfy him.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. This verse is another example where Jesus turns his hearers perceptions upside down. How has Jesus turned your world upside down?
2. How has God’s amazing grace amazed you? How do you believe that doing less – accepting what we could never do – is the way to receiving more?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.