“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Mat. 5:17)
“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” (Mat. 11:13)
When we are looking at Christ fulfilling the Law, then we are looking into something that is most instrumental in our faith walk and our faith relationship with God.
Jesus fulfilled the Law in all points and it means something very, very important to us. It has to do with our direction of faith in order that our faith may grow.
There was a blessedness and a righteousness in the law if it could be fulfilled, and Jesus Christ was the only one to fulfill it.
The Bible says that sin is the transgression of the law,
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1John 3:4)
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ never committed sin and therefore never transgressed the law.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses in order to pass the righteousness found in His fulfillment unto us.
As with the prophecies that we have looked at concerning their fulfillment in Christ, we will look at some examples in Scripture of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law. These will be examples in which Jesus had no hand or “say so” in their fulfillment.
We read in the Law of Moses concerning the circumcision of a male child in Leviticus chapter 12 verses two and three,
“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Lev. 12:2-3)
We see the fulfillment in Luke chapter two and verse 21,
“And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
Now the days in which Jesus lived upon the earth were very ungodly days as far as obedience to the Law of Moses was concerned. The Israelites observed a type of religion based upon tradition. Although they might not have been openly worshiping vain idols, they literally had departed in their heart from the Law of God.
One example of this is when Jesus cast the demons called Legion out of the man into the herd of swine in the Gospel of Mark chapter five. What in the world was a herd of swine doing in Israel? Swine were unclean and the children of Israel were forbidden to eat pork.
Yet here we read of a time when there was a herd of swine in the land of Israel.
The average Israelite of the day had basically given up trying to obey the heavy burdens and requirements of the religious leaders, and the religious leaders falsely believed their righteousness was fulfilled in keeping the vain traditions of their religious orders.
In the midst of this very religious yet unrighteous culture and environment, God chose a very godly set of parents in Mary and Joseph. Because of their godliness and dedication to the Lord, Mary and Joseph made sure that their son Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law while as yet He was still just a child.
We see this as they took Him to the temple and offered a sacrifice to the priest for the first born child according to the Law as described in Leviticus chapter 12 and verse six.
“And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:” (Lev. 12:6)
We see the fulfillment of this Scripture in Luke chapter two verses 22 through 24,
“And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; ) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)
In another portion of Scripture it says that if anyone were too poor to offer a lamb for a burnt offering, then they could substitute a pair of turtledoves. So we see here by the offering presented by Mary and Joseph that they were very poor people and could not afford a lamb for an offering.
In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 16 verses one and 16 we read of the times and feasts in which the males were commanded to appear before God,
“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” (Deut. 16:1)
“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:” (Deut. 16:16)
We can see an example of Jesus when He was still a child fulfilling this commandment in the Gospel of Luke chapter two verses 41 and 42,
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.” (Luke 2:41-42)
Here the Bible shows us that even as a young boy Jesus and His parents were diligent to observe and keep the Law of Moses.
I feel that many Christians may be as I was when I was young in the faith and didn’t understand the need for Christ to fulfill the Law of Moses.
I assumed that the only time Jesus went to the Temple in Jerusalem was as a young boy, at the beginning of His ministry when He cleansed the Temple (John 2:13-16), and then at the end of His ministry when He cleansed the Temple again by chasing out the buyers and sellers just before His crucifixion (Matt. 21:12).
But the Apostle John in writing his Gospel indicates in several different places that Jesus was at the temple during the times required of Him by the law.
We read of His being at Jerusalem during the Passover in John chapter two and verse 13,
“And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,” (John 2:13)
And again in John chapter 5 verse one,
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 5:1)
In John chapter seven verse ten,
“But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.” (John 7:10)
And in John chapter 12 verse 12,
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,” (John 12:12)
So Jesus fulfilled the Law even when it came to appearing before the Lord in the Temple at the appointed times according to the Law of Moses.
The commandment to honor one’s parents is found in Exodus chapter 20 and verse 12,
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)
We read an example of Christ’s fulfillment in Luke chapter two and verse 51,
“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)
Even as a young boy Jesus was very godly, very respectful, and very honorable to His parents. Even as a child and then as a young man, Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses in every point.
He never transgressed the Law. Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophetic Law of Moses.