Summary: Jesus Christ is the termination, fulfilment, aim and the purpose of the law.
Preached on the 3rd of July 2011
Text: Romans 10:4
The end of the law.
Dear friends in Christ.
Recently I read this story and I want to share it with you this morning.
It is a story about how the news of the victory at the battle at Waterloo arrived in England. There were no telegrams or telephones in those days, nobody could send an SMS or put it up on Facebook or Youtube, of course, but everyone knew that Wellington was facing Napoleon in that great battle on the 18th of June 1815, and that the future of England was in great uncertainty.
A sailing ship semaphored (signalled with coded flags) the news to the signalman on top of Winchester Cathedral. He signalled to another man somewhere on a hill, and this way the news of the battle was passed on by semaphore from one place to another all the way to London and across the whole land.
When the ship came in, the signalman on board semaphored the first word: “W e l l i n g t o n”. The next word was “d e f e a t e d”, and then the fog came down and the ship could not be seen. “Wellington defeated” went across England, and there was great gloom all over the countryside.
After two or three hours, the fog lifted, and the signal came again: “Wellington defeated the enemy.” Then all England rejoiced.
There was that day, when they put the body of the Lord in the tomb, that the message appeared to be Christ dead, defeated…. But three days later, the fog lifted.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
"Death is swallowed up in victory. "Death, where is your sting? Hades (hell), where is your victory?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Today I have a simple message for you. I want to explain one word to you this morning: the word ‘END’. No, this is not ‘Amen’. I have not finished my sermon yet; you are not that lucky today; I really want to talk about one word: ‘end’.
“Christ is the end of the law”
– says Paul in Romans 10:4. The law is finished! Jesus defeated…. the enemy! The enemy is done; he is dealt with; the fog is gone; it’s lifted; the law it is not enforced anymore on anybody. The time we live in is not the time under the law, but it is not a lawless time either. We do not live under the law, but we live under the ……… (what?) Grace.
Biblical opposite of the law is not chaos, lawlessness, but grace. In the world where there is no law there is anarchy. Every revolution in the history of mankind started in the same way. People dissatisfied with the status quo destroyed the existing system, the current order of things and through chaos, war, and revolution, through destruction they created something new - or at least in most cases that’s what they tried to do.
When the apostle Paul says that Christ is the end of the law, he is saying that a new era, new seasons has started. Something had finished and something new has started. The end of the law brought the beginning of mew rule; new government; new constitution – Jeremiah (31:31) calls it a new covenant. Every end means also a new beginning.
However the Greek word used in here – ‘the end’- ‘telos’ might in itself mean more then just end. It has multiple meanings, so I want to discuss these meanings with you. These are the meanings of the word “end” (telos):
So we can say with apostle Paul:
1) Jesus is the termination of the law.
2) Jesus is the fulfilment of the law.
3) Jesus is the aim of the law.
4) Jesus is the purpose of the law.
When we say it like this, it gives us much better understanding what it meant for Paul and for the readers of his epistle, because he wrote it in Greek that was spoken and understood by all his readers (or at least most of them). We have great disadvantage, because we are limited by our own translations that often become mistranslations of the original meaning of the word.
So let’s just explain these four meanings of this one word of the Greek Bible. Shall we?
1) Jesus is the termination of the law.
This first meaning of the word ‘end’ means that: There is a limit to what the law was capable of achieving. There was a time for it. There was a season of the law. There was a period when God operated in this mode for the specific purposes (we will speak of those purposes in a minute). There was an expiry date printed on a label attached to the law. Jesus’ cross was ‘Use by date’ printed on the label of the law.