Jesus and the Old Testament

Since Jesus’ own day, many have believed the He stood in opposition to the Hebrew Bible – the “Law and the Prophets.” His teaching in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, with its “antithesis” (“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, … but I saw to you…”); his violation of the complex rules which the Pharisees had added to the command to observe the Sabbath; his apparent disregard for some regulations regarding ritual purity – all have led people to think that Jesus came to abolish the Old Testament. But He did not. Instead, He came to “fulfill” every single word contained in the Scriptures. By His blameless life he fulfilled all the demands of the Law; by His death on behalf of sinners He satisfied the penalty prescribed by God for sin. When He offered Himself on the cross as a sacrifice, He fulfilled all the purpose of the entire sacrificial system, namely, to b ring sinful men into fellowship with a holy God. He was the temple of God, for the Lord dwelt in Him fully; He was the “lamb of God” who took away the sin of the world; He was the High Priest as He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice, good for all time. All prophecies and predictions found their fulfillment in Him, too. His powerful ministry of healing; His command over the wind and the waves; His resurrection from the dead; His declaration that “all authority in heaven and on earth have been given to” Him – these declare Him to be the promised King, the Son of David. Prophets had told of a time when God would establish a New Covenant with His people. He would give them a new heart and place His own Spirit within them, so that they could begin to obey His laws. When Jesus poured out His own Spirit upon the believers at Pentecost, this New Covenant power transformed their lives. The Spirit has been changing those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” ever since. Some promises remain to be fulfilled, of course. We shall not see Jesus reign visibly on earth in all His royal splendor until He returns to judge the living and the dead and to establish a New Heaven and a New Earth. Until then, we honor the Old Testament as He did. Though we are freed from the Mosaic Law as law, we receive all the Hebrew Bible as the words of God, and we seek to follow the example of Him who clarified its great commandments to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Most of all, we place our trust in the Word of God, who became a man that we might know the God whose Spirit inspired all the prophets of old.