What Does It Mean That Jesus Came to Fulfill Scripture?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

Matthew 5:17

When Jesus said that he came to “fulfill the law and the prophets,” he meant it—literally. He came to fulfill the scriptures with himself.

For about 200 years the scribes and Pharisees had been the go-to experts on how to read the Bible. Until Jesus offered this strange new way of keeping the Bible by fulfilling it. What did that mean? Right away tensions rose, and they began accusing Jesus of playing fast and loose with the Bible. So to address their accusations Jesus said,

Not a single stroke of a letter will pass away … And thereby Jesus restated the complete authority of scripture over life.

For truly I tell you … This phrase may not seem like much to us today, but in Jesus’ day it was his way of claiming absolute personal authority over interpreting and living out what was written in the Bible.

What exactly did Jesus mean by fulfilling the law and the prophets? I was once invited to speak to US Army chaplains stationed in Europe. The long plane ride gave me a chance to work on my talks. The in-air movie was Pinocchio. I glanced up just as the movie was beginning and saw the familiar puppet-boy Pinocchio, jerking around on the strings that controlled his life. It was another hour before I looked up again, and I was struck by Pinocchio’s transformation. No more strings. Life had somehow gotten inside of Pinocchio. Without Jesus, the Bible is just a book, a good historical artifact. But with Jesus, the Bible is fulfilled. It comes to life!

What brings you to life? You get to choose. Do you want to be jerked around by the external strings of untamed desire, social pressure, irrational fear, and anxiety? Or would you rather be filled with Jesus and with life? Jesus declares that when we take the Bible seriously we take him seriously. So keep these things in mind when you read the Bible.

  1. You can bet your life that the Bible is reliable and true. It will never fail you.

  2. We understand the Bible through Jesus. He is the Word made flesh, God’s love made visible. Every Biblical mystery is resolved in his love.

The Bible is alive with Jesus, and when you read it, you are animated by his life—the life that really is life.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How would you describe your relationship with the Bible? How does it make you feel to declare that you trust the Bible to be entirely trustworthy and true? Can you describe some passages of scripture that make you feel more alive?

PRAYER: Almighty God, thank you for speaking the Bible into existence. Because you are the source of scripture, I resolve to trust it more completely so that it will become for me an anchor in trouble and a sail in my daily living. Amen.


Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren.

Paying Well

After we published a week of content with the theme heading Making Money, we received a message encouraging us to consider the flip side, as well. What about Christians who fail to pay well, who complain about leaving a tip or who balk at paying an honest rate, especially when doing business with other Christians? What does the Bible have to say about this, and what is fair to expect when doing business with Christians and non-Christians alike? Is there a difference? Should there be? What has been your experience? Join us for the series, Paying Well, as we consider personal stories and biblical instruction for leading well as Christians in the world, especially when it comes to determining what to pay.

Featured image by Marty Hadding. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.

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