“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)
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.
Since the Bible tells us that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17), we are going to look at some examples in the Word of God in which Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses.
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.
This is to silence the scoffers that claim Jesus set out to accomplish certain things in His life in order to make a false claim that He was the Messiah.
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.
In Numbers chapter four and verse three we read of the age of assumption of priestly duties,
“From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Num. 4:3)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus waited until He was 30 years old before He was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist and revealed unto Israel as the Messiah? He had to be 30 years old in order to fulfill the Law of Moses concerning the assumption of priestly duties before He could establish a new priesthood after the order of Melchisedek.
We read of Christ’s fulfillment in Luke chapter three verses 21 through 23,
“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,” (Luke 3:21-23)
In Exodus chapter 29 verse four we read where the Law gives instructions for the washing of the Levitical priest,
“And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.” (Exodus 29:4)
Before a priest could assume his priestly duties he had to be washed with water by another Levitical priest. We read this fulfillment in Matthew chapter three verses 14 and 15,
“But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (Matt. 3:14-15)
John the Baptist realized that Jesus was the Messiah; the One prophesied Who would deliver Israel. This is why he told Jesus, “I have need to be baptized of thee.” However, Jesus told John that He needed to be baptized of him in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”
In order to fulfill the Law, before He could assume any priestly duties such as offering a sacrifice for forgiveness of sin, Jesus had to be washed by another priest. Since the priesthood was inherited and John the Baptist’s father was a priest, then that made John a priest also.
The Bible says that Jesus was made a priest after another priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek. We first read of Melchizedek in the Book of Genesis.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” (Gen 14:18-20)
Abraham had gone to the battle of the Kings and was returning home after his victory when he encountered this man called the king of Salem, the priest of the most high God named Melchizedek.
We read more of Melchizedek in the seventh chapter of Hebrews,
“For this Melchisedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” (Heb. 7:1-4)
According to the Law of Moses, a man could not be a priest unless he was the son of a priest. This was the reason that Samuel could be a prophet but never inherit the priesthood from Eli, no matter how godly Samuel was.
Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law of Moses. We know that Jesus is the Son of God but He walked as the Son of Man anointed with the Holy Ghost.
In order for Him to become a priest Jesus had to be the son of a priest, so in order to satisfy the Law, God manifested Himself upon the earth as Melchizedek thousands of years before the birth of Christ.
In Hebrews chapter seven, Melchizedek was called King of Peace. In Isaiah chapter nine verse six, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)
A prince is the son of a king.
The Bible says in Hebrews that Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God.” How was the Son of God made? He was God manifest in the flesh.
Melchizedek was made in the same fashion, made “like unto the Son of God.” He was God manifest in the flesh.
God the Father spoke into existence a body so that he could appear as Melchizedek, the King of Peace, the King of Salem, the Priest of the Most High God. This was done so that thousands of years later Jesus Christ could be born of a virgin, grow up, and become a priest after His order.
This fulfilled the Law saying that a priest had to be the son of a priest.
Thereby, Jesus Christ was able to be baptized in the River Jordan, washed by a Levitical priest, ordained as the Son of a Priest in another priesthood, and could go about forgiving men of their trespasses and performing priestly duties.
The Bible says in Acts ten and verse 38,
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
Why did God go through such intricate detail over an expanse of thousands of years just so Jesus could fulfill the law in all points?
First, the Bible teaches in the Book of Hebrews that before the old covenant (the Law) could be done away with and a new and better covenant could take its place, it had to be satisfied, or fulfilled.
Secondly, Jesus had to obtain the righteousness and the blessings that were contained in fulfilling the Law in order that He could transfer them unto us through our faith in His atoning work at Calvary.
God ordained from the beginning of time that it would be so.
The problem is not whether we have enough faith. The answer is to direct our faith towards the righteousness obtained by Jesus Christ through His fulfillment of the Law but yet rejected when He took our sins at Calvary.
The Bible calls it the “atonement” which means the “exchange.”
“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Rom. 5:11)
It’s not whether you think that you are knowledgeable enough, or strong enough, or in the word enough. It is totally by your faith in Jesus Christ that you have the righteousness that Jesus Christ obtained.
When God looks at you he sees the same righteousness that Jesus had. We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ.