How Did Christ Fulfill the Law?
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (KJV).
There are people who have used these verses to say that Christ did away with the Law of God by fulfilling it. They say that since He did it all, including keeping the Sabbath, then we do not have to do any of it. We must realize that these verses are a fulfillment of a prophecy. In Isaiah 42:21, God said, “The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable” (KJV). This scripture is a prophecy about Jesus, who came to magnify or enlarge the Law.
When you take a magnifying glass and put it over something, that object becomes larger. Jesus magnifies the Law by adding the requirement of inward obedience. He reveals how the Law is intended to be kept. Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the commandments. The Greek word for destroy is kataluo, and it means to dissolve, disunite, or to loosen something that has been joined together. Christ did not come to loosen the Law’s requirements, but to fill their meaning to the full or tighten its requirements. Christ fulfills the Law in that He fills their meaning to the full by adding inward obedience to the outward obedience that was already required.
He goes on in Matthew 5 to give us a whole chapter about how He magnified the Law. For instance, the commandment “Do not commit adultery” is magnified in Christ. He reveals to us that we should not even lust in our heart or mind. The commandment against murder is magnified in Christ because He reveals that hating others in your heart is committing murder. The Sabbath is magnified in that we should not even think about breaking it. This means that we must still obey the commandments outwardly, but we must also obey them inwardly. The requirements of the Law become magnified or enlarged in Christ.
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Since He kept the Sabbath, then we need to as well.
Kelly is the President of the BSA and an Evangelist with Hungry Hearts Ministries. www.hungryheartsministry.com