Special Features

Jesus, Our Righteousness

“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.” Matthew 5:17

In Word

When we think of the Christmas story, we usually think of the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke. These explain how Jesus came into this world. But why did Jesus come? He answers that Himself in many of His teachings. One of the answers is given in Matthew 5:17.

We don’t often think of this verse in terms of the Advent. To us, it is more often a confusing statement about legalism and the role of the law in a Christian’s life. But there is much more to it than that. The Law and the Prophets are the Word of God—immutable and inviolable. The law that Moses received at Sinai cannot be broken without catastrophic consequences. The prophets cannot be ignored without the same results. Yet the law was broken and the prophets ignored it repeatedly. Only by man fulfilling them can man be saved. How could God accomplish our salvation in light of our numerous willful violations? He sent a Man.

Jesus fulfilled all righteousness. When He went to John to be baptized, it was not for His own need. It was a baptism on Israel’s behalf—and, by extension, ours. “It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness,” He said (Matthew 3:15). He accomplished what we could not: true obedience and true repentance on our behalf.

In Deed

Jesus did not come to tell us “never mind” about the law. That’s not a basis for God’s forgiveness, though we often presume that it is. God has never just ignored our offenses. Humanity could not be saved without a law fulfiller. That’s why Jesus came. He paid attention not only to every small letter and stroke of the pen, but also to the Spirit behind them. In so doing, He accomplished what we could not—righteousness. And then He gave it to us.

That’s the reason for Christmas. The baby in the manger was our only hope to fulfill God’s law. Thank God He did.

Read: Matthew 5:17-20

“O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” – Latin hymn

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