“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17–18
The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were legalists and they like legalists of all ages were focused on doing the least that they had to do to convince themselves that they were being obedient to God’s law. The reason for this focus on doing only the least was because they were, in their own strength and ability alone, looking to their obedience to merit their salvation. In these efforts they had learned by hard experience that sinful man is incapable of achieving the large claims of the law of God, but instead of reaching out to God for the divine strength he was offering they diminished the claims of his law of love. In this lessening of God’s law, they in fact perverted that law, and in many cases wholly obscured the love that he had intended that it would safeguard.
Our loving Savior, when he came to live, minister, and teach revealed once again the fullness of the love of God which is the very heart of his law. Jesus’ teaching pushed aside the instruction of the scribes and Pharisees, revealed it to be worthless and in some cases showed that it was destructive to God’s purposes. So marked was the difference between the teaching of Jesus and the established Rabbi’s of his day that there were some that were beginning to say that he was setting aside the law of God. To these critics Jesus’ answer was, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
Christ’s purpose was not to remove even one particle of the eternal law of love. All creation is designed to function according to this law. In its keeping is peace, harmony and life, and departing from it only results in discord, pain and, ultimately death. For this reason our Redeemer’s teaching was focused on restoring the law to its true place so that it blessings could be experienced by all. Jesus’ desire was that his law would be fulfilled in every heart. It’s only as it’s fulfilled in us that we can truly experience the fullness of the salvation he has bought for us.
Satan’s desire is that men would remain trapped in the pain and misery of sin. Many people, sincerely seeking a relationship with God, have been taught that they don’t need worry about keeping the law. “Just do the best you can,” they’re told, “Jesus’ grace and mercy will make up for the rest.”
Friends, Jesus’ life and death have purchased freedom from both the guilt and the power of sin in our lives. This means that he’s given us forgiveness and with that he’s given his Holy Spirit so that we can have the strength to overcome sin and discover the fullness of the love of God. This is a love that not only comes to us but one that flows through us and touches the lives of others as we love them in obedience to God’s direction. This love even touches the heart of God as we, in obedience to his commandments, join our lives with his in loving service and worship.