Day 4

Christ Fulfills the Law

from the The Sermon on the Mount reading plan


Matthew 5:17-20, Psalm 40:6-8, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8, Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:23-26

BY Rebecca Faires

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:17-20, Psalm 40:6-8, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8, Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:23-26

When I was sixteen, I was not the sixteen of the movies. I expected that I would go to lots of parties and laugh with lots of boys. Instead, I did Bible quizzing. Do you know what this is? It’s amazing and intense. You basically memorize a book of the Bible and then meet up with other church kids and answer questions. There were even special seats that could sense when you stood up, since we were so quick to answer and the human eye could never have accurately detected who was the first up to “Complete the following verse: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish…’”

In a flash I was up, “ThelawortheProphetsIhavenotcometoabolishthembuttofulfillthem!!!”

The year I quizzed, we memorized the book of Matthew. I was “Captain Bible Quizzing Nerd Pants.” I wish I had the motivation to memorize Scripture with the tenacity I did when I was sixteen. Back then I threw all my teenage energy into bookish and nerdy pursuits.

This is why the book of Matthew rings with the fervor of sixteen-year-old adrenaline for me. The whole book seemed SO IMPORTANT back then. This passage reminds me that the whole of Scripture is important: not just the parts we obsessed over as teenagers, not just the parts we like, and not just the racy bits in Song of Solomon.

Christ fulfills the whole of Scripture.

Some Jews, weary under the weight of the law, might have wished that Christ would totally abolish it. They, like me, might have wished they could just be free of the law to live as they liked. But the law of the Old Testament provides boundaries and a structure upon which to hang the grace Christ offers in the New Testament.

Imagine a playground high on a mountain. Now, try to stay calm, watching the kids climbing and swinging from up above. I know I would keep all my babies as close as possible, not letting them run because of my fear they would fall. Now imagine this mountain playground is surrounded by a sturdy fence. Suddenly there is freedom to play! The boundary gives freedom.

This is what Christ is saying: the law is excellent, and He fulfills it. If the law is a glass of water, Christ doesn’t pour it out, He fills it up for us. He doesn’t make the law void; He stamps it paid in full!

On the other hand, the Jews believed that anything belonging to God should be preserved—even the least of the commandments, which incidentally, they reckoned was found in Deuteronomy 22:6-7: If you find a bird’s nest, you can take the baby birds, but leave the mother bird (my paraphrase). These jots and tittles—they were the bread and butter of the Pharisees, the Super Law Followers.

But Christ does something truly amazing. He calls us to repent of both our sins AND our righteousness. Our “goodness” is not good enough, our righteousness is not righteous enough. Only Christ’s redemption is enough. The Pharisees obeyed the outside of the law, but we are called to obey the inside of the law, the truth, heart, and substance behind it. So go ahead and pay your tithe, but give God your heart.

It’s only when we realize that even our righteousness isn’t enough, that we can repent and trust ourselves to the righteousness of Christ.

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Post Comments (65)

65 thoughts on "Christ Fulfills the Law"

  1. Jarm says:

    Love your example of the playground on the mountaintop. So vivid!

  2. Tochi Heredia says:

    I love that obedience doesn’t come from our own abilities nor righteousness. Our obedience is a byproduct of His grace, of his making a home in us ❤

  3. Ashley BB says:

    Today’s study resonates with me because I want to be told exactly what to do/not to do. I want things laid out in a clear, orderly fashion so that I have something to judge whether I have been a success or a failure. For those of us who have strayed from the Lord (and returned) and found ourselves doing things and living like you would expect a Christian NOT to- the Law makes sense. I’ve always told my husband, “I TOTALLY get why God put those parameters in place! That makes sense why He would have us not do these things!”- for our protection, for us to be set apart, to be holy and known as His people and to look different from the world. I love the Law, everything that God makes is good, how can the law not be? But I can’t uphold the law on my own; would love to, have tried often (and still sometimes do) and fail every time- and that’s where I experience the utter freedom that Christ brings. The law does not need to be abolished, it is good- but it’s impossible to keep perfectly ourselves and we need the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the law by upholding it perfectly.

    Does that make sense?
    Thank you God that you gave us Your law from the get go, and that You provided Your son to uphold it and fulfill it in all of the ways that we never could. May we all experience the grace and freedom that we have in Jesus Christ!

    1. Hannah Johnson says:

      This is so good Ashley!! Thank you for sharing!

  4. GramsieSue says:

    Yes, Lord, I can get caught up in the jots and tittles and lose the meaning and intent behind the Law. And ultimately that is to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. In all I think. In all I say. In all I do. And in loving you I have victory. In loving you I have strength and power. It’s only when I forget You–lean on my own power and strength–that I fail. Sadly, this happens all too often. But Joy of joys–You don’t hold it against me. ❤️ You welcome me back, give me another chance, and strengthen me once again for the journey. How blessed I am to be a daughter of The King! ❤️

  5. Caroline says:

    He is everything! He changes everything. His death paid of everything.

    So thankful we are not bound to the law, but bound to his grace + love <3
    http://www.in-due-time.com

  6. Kristen says:

    Love the phrasing of obeying the outside of the law AND the inside of the law. What people see (actions of obedience) and what God only sees (the heart).

    1. Cathylynn says:

      ❤️

    2. Beth L. says:

      God sees BOTH the outside and the inside (heart).

  7. Ash says:

    If Christ came to fulfill the Law for us & be a perfect sacrifice on our behalf… doesn’t that mean we’re under His grace? I understand the importance of the Law for those who were under it in the OT, but should we still be using it as a reference point for our lives today? It’s hard because I feel like so much of them are cultural & don’t apply to today, so then it becomes a “pick a choose” way to follow the Law.

    I’m just kinda thinking aloud, but if anyone has insight, I’d love to hear it. Like Churchmouse, I’m probably overthinking.

    1. Rachel M says:

      This sermon really help me understand the different parts of the law and what matters today. Hope it helps or makes you think on it more: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sojourn-galleria-sermon/id1158625806?mt=2&i=1000391048010

      1. Ash says:

        Gave this a listen! Thanks! :)

    2. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Ash! Thanks so much for reading along with us, and we’re so glad that you’re digging in and really seeking to understand what you read. Topics like this can be tricky, so we always recommend reaching out to a trusted spiritual leader, pastor or mentor to help you process questions like this. Being able to work through what you read with others in your community, especially when it comes to things like grace and the law, it can make a world of difference! We’re so glad to have you in our community!

      1. Ash says:

        Thank you! I’ve loved SRT & it’s community for the last few years. It’s always a great place to grow!

    3. Kristi says:

      Ash, I was just reading the notes for the Matthew 5 verses in my Study Bible and felt like they would offer some insight to you. Here they are:

      “If Jesus did not come to abolish the law, does that mean all the Old Testament laws still apply to us today? I’m the Old Testament, there were three categories of law: ceremonial, civil, and moral.
      1) The ceremonial law related specifically to Israel’s worship. Its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ; these laws, therefore, were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial laws, the principles behind them – to worship and love a holy God – still apply. Jesus was often accused by Pharisees of violating ceremonial law.
      2) The civil law applied to daily living in Israel. Because modern society and culture are so radically different from that time and setting, all of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands are timeless and should guide our conduct. Jesus demonstrated these principles by example.
      3) The moral law (such as the Ten Commandments) is the direct command of God, and it requires strict obedience. The moral law reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies today. Jesus obeyed the moral law completely.”

      I know that was a bit long, but I hope it will help answer your questions! It definitely helped me to understand these verses better today.

      1. Kristi says:

        Just realized there was a typo! It’s supposed to say “In the Old Testament,” not “I’m the Old Testament”… sorry!

        1. Pam says:

          Thanks Kristi. Gotta love the study Bible. Great info.

        2. valerie says:

          great insight!
          thanks kristi!

      2. Ash says:

        Thank you, Kristi!

  8. Janet says:

    I’m thinking of two analogies: one. We are told not to touch the hot stove as children but in curiosity we want to know why so we touch it and of course we get burned and suddenly the law makes sense. Two. Some people have invisible fences for their pets and the pet wears a color that will shock when they get to the boundary. The shock reminds them to get back not to go that way. I’m thinking that’s the Holy Spirit for us. God has set up boundaries. We test them because we are rebellious but the Holy Spirit acts like the shock collar reminding us of the law. We can’t live up to the law but the Holy Spirit nudges us when we stray so we can repent and turn back inside the boundary. And when we do touch that hot stove we learn a lesson in obedience. He gives us free will to choose and in our failure he nudges us back always

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