Summary: A look at why Jesus came to earth in His own words
SERIES: WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT WHY HE CAME
“I CAME TO FULFILL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS”
A young boy was bitterly disappointed at not being cast as Joseph in his church’s nativity play. He was given the minor role of the innkeeper instead. Throughout the weeks of rehearsal, he plotted and planned how he could avenge himself against his successful rival.
Finally the day of performance arrives. Joseph and Mary make their entrance and knock on the door of the inn. The innkeeper opens the door a fraction and eyes the couple very coldly. Joseph pleads, “Can you give us lodging and board for the night?” Joseph then steps back and calmly awaits the expected answer: “There is no room in the inn.”
But the boy playing the innkeeper had not plotted and planned all those weeks for nothing. He flings the door open wide, beams cordially, and cries out in a loud voice, “Come on in. You shall have the best room in the hotel.”
There was an awkward pause, but then, with a great presence of mind, the young Joseph looks at Mary and says, “Hold on. I’ll take a look inside first.” And with that, he pushes past the innkeeper, turns around, comes back, shakes his head firmly, and announces, “I’m not taking my wife into a place like that. Come on, Mary, we’ll sleep in the stable.”
Needless to say, the plot was back on course. The plot was not deviated from just because someone didn’t like their role in the story.
Jesus had course that was plotted for Him. Many of the details of Jesus’ life were prophesied hundreds of years before He was born in a stable in Bethlehem. In fact, there are several hundred prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection in the Old Testament.
Last week we started our Christmas series. It’s not a typical Christmas series where we look at the traditional scenes about Jesus’ birth – Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men. It’s a series called “What Jesus Said About Why He Came.” During the Christmas season, we celebrate “God with us” – when God came to earth as a man. That God-man’s name is Jesus and during His time here on earth, He made several declarations concerning why He came. During this series we’re going to look at those statements and see how they affect our lives. Today’s statement: “I Came to Fulfill the Law and the Prophets.”
Mt. 5:17-20 – “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. I tell you the truth, 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. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law,
you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What does it mean to “fulfill” something? Webster defines “fulfill” as “to carry out something promised; to do something required; to satisfy a condition; to complete.” Jesus did all those things and more when He came to this earth over 2,000 years ago. His fulfillment of the law and the prophets carries with it some very important things for His people today.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS
What exactly are “the Law and the Prophets”? It was a way of referring to what was then the entirety of God’s revealed will. The Law consists of the first five books of our Old Testament. It’s in these books that we find the initial revelation of God’s nature and His revelation concerning the life He desired for His people. The Prophets consisted of the books we term “history” books (Joshua-2 Kings) as well as the books of “wisdom” (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) and the books of the prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve shorter prophets (Hosea-Malchi). The Prophets were viewed as commentary on the Law – an explanation of how to live out the life God desired. The whole Old Testament is sometimes referred to as “The Law” and that’s how we’ll use that term from this point forward.
The first five books of the Law were given to Moses to guide the people of God in spiritual and civil matters after they were led out of slavery in Egypt – when they became a nation. For further understanding, I need to let you know some things concerning the Jews as God’s chosen people.