Read Matthew 5:17 and Galatians 3:19-26.
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says he fulfills the law, instead of abolishing it. The law of Moses had a specific purpose, but it was a temporary covenant and never meant to last forever. However, Jesus did not come to oppose this law or to discard it. Instead, Jesus took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, displayed the intent of the Jewish Scriptures, and became the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins.
So, why was the law given at all? First, the law increased awareness of conscious sin. This highlighted the need for a Savior, since humanity cannot keep the law perfectly. Thus, the law prepared the way for the preaching of the gospel and increased our longing for Jesus. Secondly, the law had a guardian function (Gal. 3:22-25), helping decrease sin, creating a nation designed to bring God’s love and justice to humanity. The law had a positive role as it both revealed and restrained transgressions. However, with Christ’s finished work on the cross, a new covenant has been established and we have hope in Him.
Today, we are no longer living in slavery to the law. We are justified by faith (3:24), thus granting us freedom in Christ as children of God. So how are we called to live today? Paul says in Galatians 5:16 “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” As “O Holy Night” says, “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.”
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Consider what it means to you personally that Jesus came to fulfill the law. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s sacrifice for you; thank him for fulfilling the law and ushering in a new covenant of freedom.
By Billy Berglund