Many approach the New Testament from the perspective that Christ was a revolution – something totally new, totally different. This was simply not the case. Unique, Jesus definitely was, but Christ faced a major misconception in His day; we face the same misconception in ours. Christ did not represent something new. Christ was an expansion of the previous revelation of God, not a replacement. In the person of Himself, He brought a clearer, bigger expression of what God had been saying all along in the Law and the Prophets; a better picture – an exact picture – of what God was really like. After all, the capacity of the Scriptures was limited; limited that is, in describing the complex nature of God. This limitation was overcome when “...the word became flesh and dwelt among us...” The Scriptures, however, were not limited in teaching God's abiding standard of right and wrong.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
John tells us, “...the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” John was not telling us that Christ was something new, but that Christ was the ultimate expression of God. Christ was and is God to the max. “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…” the writer of Hebrews tells us. All this could easily lead us to think that with the coming of Christ, the Old Testament had been rendered obsolete, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Christ chided the Pharisees of His day for neglecting , “…the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness...” And Paul told us the Law was “...holy and righteous and good.” The Law reveals God’s justice, God’s mercy, and God’s faithfulness. Christ too reveals this and more, but not in the same way.
Christ came to establish and flesh-out what God had been saying all along through the Law and the Prophets. He came to “put it into force” as one writer has said. The Old Testament reveals significant moral aspects of God, aspects we cannot afford to neglect if we expect our light to shine before men in such a way that they see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. After all, it was the Old Testament Law and Prophets that the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to use for “...teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness...” No doubt grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ, but just as true is that the Law was given through Moses. Grace, Truth, and Law: these three aspects make a whole, and apart from God’s Law, there are aspects of God that we simply cannot know; there is a morality we simply will not express. Grace and truth is not all there is to God. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets” is what Christ said. We would do well to listen.