Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament by Becoming the Ultimate Sin Sacrifice
Consider What Jesus Did for Us
Today’s church still follows the Old Testament model for church: we have a church building where we go to worship God, hire a minister who represents the Almighty to us, and take a collection to support the whole thing.
This is not what Jesus has in mind. Instead Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, not to perpetuate it or to eliminate it. Here’s how: Through his sacrificial death, in one single action, Jesus does away with the need to go to a building, hire staff, and take an offering. (More on what Jesus did here.) We should do the same.
This all hinges on Jesus.
Jesus draws people to him—both then and now. The words he speaks and the hope he communicates attract them. Two thousand years ago, people assume Jesus comes to replace the Old Testament Law and the work of the prophets, but this isn’t his calling.
Jesus doesn’t come to do away with what the Old Testament teaches. Instead his mission is to bring the Old Testament into fruition, according to God’s plan, set in place from the beginning. Jesus makes this clear. He says, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).
How does Jesus do this?
Jesus Becomes the Ultimate Sacrifice
The Old Testament is packed with instructions for making sacrificial offerings, commands that show the people’s relationship with God. These sacrifices have various meanings, but one key sacrifice occurs—and recurs—to redress sin. An animal must die because the people have sinned. Since the people continue to sin, animal sacrifices persist as a requirement. These sin sacrifices must happen over and over, day after day, year after year, century after century.
Jesus, in his sacrificial death on the cross, becomes the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sin sacrifices. This is the main way Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. In his once-and-for-all sacrifice, he dies to make us right with God, to reconcile us into right relationship with the Almighty.
Jesus Turns Law into Love
Despite Jesus’s fresh way of looking at the assumptions of his people, his disciples struggle to understand what he means. They wrestle to reconcile his teachings with their traditions.Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love. Click To Tweet
One such person asks Jesus to cite the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus’s answer is love. He says to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.” This stands as the greatest commandment, but then he adds one more. He says to “love others as much as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40). These two simple principles summarize the purpose and intent of the entire Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets.
Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love. This is another way Jesus fulfills the Old Testament.
May we love others because Jesus loves us.
[Read more about this in Peter’s upcoming book, Jesus’s Broken Church.]
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.