JESUS DID WHAT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MAN BY FULFILLING THE LAW
The law of Moses was impossible to fulfill. But Jesus did the impossible, living without sin, that He might make righteousness possible for the rest of us who live by faith in Him.
“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10).
Not the great Apostles nor the great Prophets could ever bear that yoke of Moses as it required perfection; all of us have gone astray and sinned. If anyone was or is ever to be saved and have eternal life, something had to be done.
We see in the New Testament that we are under a new dispensation called the New Testament. We understand that being under the New Covenant of Christ, established at the Cross (Heb 9:15-17), that we necessarily have been released from the law of Moses including the 10 Commandments (Rom 7:6,7). Unlike the Jews, “we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” But how did this happen? What blessed event could release sinful man from that old Law of Moses?
When Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that He did NOT come to abolish the Law, He meant that He came to be the one person to do what no one else had done which was to fulfill it. Once it was fulfilled, then it was taken out of the way. Once fulfilled, it accomplished it’s purpose and was removed by God. Jesus could have stepped into the world and could have declared the Law abolished. But instead Jesus lived it and kept it perfectly that He might be the first to do so. By fulfilling the Law, He finished His ministry on the Cross, and paved the way for men to be made righteous – as the Law demanded – by putting their faith in the one who kept the Law perfectly.
The prophecy of Jeremiah 31 shows that God intended to effect a New Covenant which he contrasted with the Old Covenant God gave to Israel. The words of the Hebrew writer creates a fairly clear picture that the old covenant of Moses had become obsolete in favor of the better covenant of which Jesus Christ is mediator (Heb 8:6,7,13). “When he said, ‘A new covenant’, He has made the first obsolete.”
This leaves one particular question in our minds as to what then was meant by Jesus when He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17)? How can the Law not be abolished by also be obsolete?
The Law had to be fulfilled. Because of the difficulty of keeping it as Paul says, “what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh”, and as Peter said of the Law to the Jerusalem council, that it was, “a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear”, (Rom 8:2; Acts 15:10), it had not ever until the time of Jesus Christ been fulfilled. For the Law of Moses to be fulfilled it had to be kept perfectly. When Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that He did NOT come to abolish the Law, He meant that He came to be the one to do what no one else had done which was to fulfill it.
The Law of Moses was NOT sin, but was “holy, righteous and good”, said Paul, (Romans 7:7,12). Yet the “righteous requirement of the Law” was perfection and anything less would leave the Law unfulfilled. When Jesus came, He kept the Law perfectly “without sin”, (Heb 4:15). When Jesus lived without sin, He fulfilled it. Jesus fulfilled the Law for all time. Jesus could have stepped onto the planet and could have simply said, ‘This Law of Moses is impossible to keep and I therefore decree it is abolished.” But He didn’t. Jesus lived under the Law and He kept the Law perfectly to make Him the one to fulfill it.
God put the Law in place for a particular period of time after which time, there would be no need for it. Paul said to the Galatians,
“Why the Law then? IT WAS ADDED because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, UNTIL THE SEED WOULD COME to whom the promise had been made.”, Gal 5:19. Notice the part I capitalized to highlight the temporary nature of the Law of Moses. And when the Seed came, meaning Jesus Christ who is the Seed of Abraham, the Law would be fulfilled as had never been done before. It was to be a temporary instrument of God that would teach, a ‘tutor’ or ‘schoolmaster’ as Paul put it, which demonstrated that God demands righteousness.
So how does this help us because we are still weak in the flesh and imperfect? Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses and so the righteous requirement of it is possible in all sinners who by faith receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the Law’s demand and thus all are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. People of faith are made righteous with the righteousness of the One who fulfilled the Law.