The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
I am not sure if you were around long enough to remember the song "I fought the law, and the law won", by the Bobby Fuller Four, released in 1963. But it became a very popular song that was remade by the popular band, "The Clash" in 1979. Some of our younger readers will definitely know that band.
In the bible, "the Law" refers to the Ten Commandments and the other laws God gave to the Jewish people to set them apart from the other people. God promised them that if obeyed God, He would bless them and make their name great. But He also warned that if they turned away from the Law, He would withdraw His hand of protection. So we see time and time again that Israel would enjoy a period of success, as they followed God and His laws. Then, they would fall away and worship other gods. Eventually God allowed other nations to invade and destroy the temple.
So when Jesus comes and says he is not here to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, we see the true purpose of the Law fulfilled. The Jews found they fought the Law and the Law won. When Jesus comes he does not fight the Law or ever disobey it, but gives it it's deeper meaning. He gives the Law it's purpose by showing that the primary purpose of the Law is to lead everyone to Him. It is the perfect Law that points out as Paul said in Romans 3:22, "All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory". He could have said all have sinned and fallen short of God's Law.
As Martin Luther said, "The Law drives us to Christ!" There is one thing Martin Luther and the apostle Paul had in common. They fought the Law and the Law won. They tried to be justified by the Law, but they realized that was impossible. They finally realized that the only way one could be justified was through Christ through faith. They realized the only perfect One was the Son of God.
A definition of religion is "man's attempt to please God". At the heart of religion is thinking we can please by doing something to earn His favor. But Martin Luther and the apostle Paul realized the only one could please God was the perfect Son of God. So they stopped trying to win God's favor, and instead trusted in the only provision God made to measure up to His perfect standard, His Son Jesus.
So the Good News is we don't have to try and earn our way into Heaven. We don't have to climb the ladder of works righteousness. We are justified by grace through faith based on the Word of God. When we see we can't measure up to God's perfect Law, we can only turn to God and receive God's grace. The great hymn writer John Newton wrote in 1767 following his own conversion to Christ, "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
Do you know Amazing Grace? You would know if you did. Many people today are still running on the religious treadmill hoping to do enough stuff to please God. You are fighting the Law and it is going to win. But Jesus has already won the battle. Instead of fighting the Law, He fulfilled it. How do you fight the Law? You can't. Stop fighting and surrender to the only One who can set you free.