Jesus Christ did not come to fire anybody, but to fulfill something. When you fulfill a contract, you do everything the deal promised. When you fulfill an objective, you accomplish the goal that objective was set forth to achieve. When you fulfill an agreement to pay off a debt, you pay the debt in full.
So what does Jesus Christ mean by this remark: “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?” How did Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets? Simply put, he accomplished what they had been designed to do. Jesus finished what Moses had started. (Matthew 5:17)
The Law and the Prophets were created by God as instruments for revealing his character and his power to mankind, and for moving people of faith toward holiness and righteousness. The Law outlined God’s priorities and purposes. The Prophets demonstrated his power to know in advance and to fulfill the most audacious promises and prophecies.
Paul explains this in Galatians 5: 24 – 25. “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.”
The Law and the Prophets gave us shadowy images of God’s character and priorities. Jesus became the ultimate display of God’s character and purposes, and the four gospels continue to describe his life in vivid colors today. The Old Testament nudged us forward in the quest for true righteousness. On the cross, Jesus of Nazareth accepted the penalty for our sins, and gave us his righteousness in exchange. Scripture assures us that we are now complete in him.
That’s why it wasn’t necessary or desirable for Jesus to abolish the Law and the Prophets, or get rid of Moses and Elijah. They are still insightful and instructive. We should teach those laws and ideals to our sons and daughters as a means of preparing them to one day trust Jesus Christ. But rather than struggling with laws and ordinances, we simply live in the Spirit. The need for righteousness has been fulfilled. Now you and I must give more thought to fulfilling God’s purposes for us. That will be accomplished when we achieve what we were designed and created to accomplish.
Lift up the Cross!