Christ Came to Fulfill the Prophets
You can picture an example of this them when you think about Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. Thanks to his Christmas Eve visitors, his eyes are opened, his grey world is infused with light, his sour expression becomes joyful, and he finds himself living in ways unimaginable before his eyes were opened to “the true meaning of Christmas.” He start throwing bags of money, giving people days off, and coming over for dinner!
There is a similar kind of conversion that I am praying for this season. There is a meaning of Christmas – the true meaning – that many of us miss. Some of us miss it because we have never heard it before. Most of probably miss it because even though we know it is true, we have stopped meditating on it to the point where it stuns our hearts.
That has been true of my own heart. But this week I read a verse, and for a moment felt that flash of wonder and awe that my children feel on Christmas morning. Do you even remember how marvelous Christmas morning was – before you had to stay up late and work hard to provide the magic?!
Go back, just for a minute! Growing up, you knew what was coming, didn’t you? You didn’t know what was under the tree, but you knew what Christmas morning would be like. The fire would be lit, you knew the stockings would be full, you knew the tree would be drowning in presents, you knew breakfast would be ridiculously sugary and delicious, (or whatever your traditions were). The point is that the shape of Christmas morning was not a surprise to you. But when you walked into the living room with your brothers and sisters, it still took your breath away!
What made Christmas morning marvelous and magical when we were kids was not that it was so new and unexpected, but that we got to live through it again! That child-like sense of wonder and awe – the joy comes from experiencing again what I know so well – that is what I am praying is recaptured and reignited in our hearts through these meditations. There is a true meaning of Christmas. And it is worthy of our hearts being stunned by it again – not by some shocking new revelation, but by a fresh heart encounter with some old, amazing truth!
The place where that spark caught again for me this season was Matt 5:17 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.
If we step back for a minute, we can see that the main point of this paragraph is focused very clearly on righteousness. The main point Jesus is making is, “I have come to perfectly keep the Law.” He has not come to relax even the least of the commandments, but to keep them, and to command His disciples to keep them. What he will have, after a life of fulfilling the Law, is called in vs 20 “a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees.” The reason Jesus shares this is because the way you get into the kingdom of heaven – which requires a perfect righteousness – is not to try and work it like they do, but to receive it from Him by faith.
“I have come to fulfill the Law, for you!” This is a massive part of what it means that “you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matt 1:21)! You shall call His Name “Yeshua” meaning, Yahweh saves. And He saves His people by performing and then providing the perfect righteousness they need. That is the primary point. But secondary points can be awesomely important!
If you turn this verse around and make it’s language positive, and you take out the emphasis on the Law, you can hear the secondary point. You can hear Christmas! “Do not think I have come to abolish the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” becomes “I have come to fulfill the Prophets!” The “coming” that Jesus speaks of here is Christmas. That coming is the fulfillment of the promises of God made through the Prophets in the Scriptures. That’s why, already by this early point in the gospel, we have heard 8x (and will another 9x before the gospel is over) This happened so that what was spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled. Jesus is announcing the purpose of Christmas: I have come to fulfill the Prophets! The Person of Jesus, born in Bethlehem, fulfills the promises of God in the prophets.
Over this series of posts, I want to invite you into 3 glimpses of this kind of fulfillment – three meditations on the messiah. And I pray that your heart would be freshly moved to awe-filled worship of the power of God by the way this baby was born to fulfill the Prophets.