Sermon: Christ Fulfills the Scriptures
Scripture: Matthew 5:17
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means that Jesus fulfilled what was written in the law and the prophets.
Theme: Christ and the Prophets
It is not only true that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, however; he also fulfilled the prophets as the verse implies, only he did this in an entirely different way. When we speak of prophecy we are speaking of direct statements in the Old Testament about the one who was to come to deliver Israel and redeem mankind, statements that told who he would be, where he would be born, what he would do, how he would suffer, and what would be the ultimate outcome of his suffering. Thus, when Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the prophets, he meant that he had come to fulfill the great statements that had been made about him in the Old Testament.
It is obvious that this is a subject so large that it could never be covered adequately in any one sermon, much less part of one. Even if it were covered exhaustively, I suppose it would be the case (as John says) that even the world itself could not contain all the books that should be written. Therefore, I propose to set forth briefly the prophecies that are, in my opinion, the major ones. In each case, however, they are passages that have already been picked up by the New Testament writers as pointing to Jesus Christ and have therefore been discussed there.
What are the texts that most point to Christ’s coming? Well, let me give you the selection. The first is Genesis 3:15. It is the first prophecy in the Bible about the coming of Jesus Christ, and it is interesting that it was spoken not to Adam or Eve, or Moses, or any of the Patriarchs, or any other human being, but to Satan. It was a prophecy that the one who was to be born of the woman would be victorious over him. The verse says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This verse was fulfilled at the cross of Christ, at which Satan succeeded in bringing about the death of the Lord Jesus—although naturally God had foreordained the death of his Son and brought it to pass—and at which Jesus decisively defeated Satan and his power. This was one prophecy that Jesus came to earth to fulfill.
Another is Genesis 22:18. This prophecy was spoken to Abraham. The chapter in which it occurs is the chapter that tells of Abraham’s obedience in being willing to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. Today we see that this event portrayed in a way that the patriarch could grasp what God would one day do with his Son for the world’s salvation. Abraham was only called upon to offer his son. But when the time came for God to offer up his Son, the knife that was poised above him fell, and Christ died tasting death for all who should call upon him. He thereby achieved their salvation. It was in this context that God said to Abraham, “And in thy seed [meaning Christ] shall all the nations of the world be blessed.” Years later, the apostle Paul pointed out clearly that the “seed” was the Lord Jesus Christ, that the promise was one of blessing through him, and that the blessing promised was to come through Christ’s great work of redemption.
We turn over the pages of Genesis and come to the words of Abraham’s grandson Jacob, who on his deathbed spoke to his twelve sons. All of the words spoken to his twelve sons on this occasion are prophecies, but to Judah there is a special prophecy of a ruler and a lawgiver to come. Jacob says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:10). There is no doubt, of course, that this word “Shiloh” is a difficult term. I have often thought and am at least half convinced that originally it was an active participle of the verb shalach meaning “the appointed one” or “the one who is sent.” This would involve the alteration of a final letter he to a khet, which is a possibility but not a certainty. Whatever the case, the word looks forward to a future descendant of Judah who would be both a king and a lawgiver and to whom the Gentile nations would be gathered. Once again, this prophecy was fulfilled and is still being fulfilled by Christ.
When we speak of Jesus fulfilling the prophets, how do we understand prophecy in this case?
Where in the Bible is the first prophecy about Christ found? How did he fulfill it?
What is significant about Jacob’s words to his son, Judah?
Reflection: In our own day, how do we see Satan working against Christ and his church?
Key Point: Thus, when Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the prophets, he meant that he had come to fulfill the great statements that had been made about him in the Old Testament.