Jesus did come, but Jesus did not come for the reasons suggested by many. The purpose of this study is to look at the words of Jesus and find why he did come, so that we might be able to separate his stated purpose from the stated purposes of those who misunderstand his coming. In other words, we need to study why Jesus did not come so that we can most accurately know why he did come.
In our first devotional, we learned that Jesus did not come to counter-balance the Father. He was not a midcourse correction for the Godhead who had grown a bit too harsh.
Next we learned Jesus did not come to bless the Jews alone. He had international and multi-ethnic interests in mind far before his Jewish friends. Jesus came to bless “the Israel of God” and not merely the Israeli state.
Today we learn Jesus did not come to lessen the ethical requirements of the Father. This can clearly be seen in his sermon recorded by Matthew:
Matthew 5:17-20 “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.” I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Son of God was an expert in the Law given to Moses; he gave it to him atop Mt. Sinai. In addition he had a very proficient understanding of the teaching found in the Prophets. At the age of twelve, his theological acumen was most impressive to the scholars in the Temple. If any man understood the ethic of God, it was Jesus Christ.
Well, contrary to the teaching of many, Jesus did not come to end the teaching of the Old Testament. He was not a New Testament Dispensationalist. He did not ignore God’s Law, neither did he treat these teachings as unimportant. No, Jesus came to honor and keep the ethical requirement of God. And according to his statement above, he did not expect the teaching of the Old Testament to end following his earthly ministry. Jesus saw Old Testament principles as carrying ongoing importance in the Kingdom of Heaven — which by the way was already at hand. According to the Master, all great teachers would continue to promote God’s good Law, and all good students would continue to be hearers and doers of the Old Testament ethical code.
However, while Jesus did uphold the Law, he did not expect any of his followers to be able to enter the Kingdom by righteously keeping that recorded in the Law and the Prophets. The Pharisees strove to be experts at keeping the Law, but one would have to do far better than the best of this holy bunch. Perfection was the only standard accepted by the Holy Judge.
Therefore, Jesus came because the Law demanded perfection, and he was the perfect substitute for imperfect Law keepers. But he did not come to lessen the standard so that God might grade on the curve. God is immutable and so too are his ethical expectations. Certain ceremonies and rituals change, but the Law of God stands firm forever. Jesus took not the slightest Antinomian step. He came to honor and fulfill the Law, and encourage others by grace to walk in his steps.