Jesus and the Law

Basic definitions of Law

In taking up the discussion of the Law, it is important to define what exactly is meant by the term. Law, in its broad sense, refers to the Scriptures authored by Moses- the first five books of the traditional Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This is also what is termed in Hebrew as "Torah" or books of instruction. Law, in its narrow sense, refers to the list of commandments and regulations placed upon Israel in a special sense and to the whole world in a general sense (cf. Rom.2:14). This could be summed up as "Decalogue" or the Ten Commandments. This is often the way "Law" is used in Paul's writings.

Jesus in the Books of the Law

In the broad sense, Jesus is spoken about in the Torah in several distinct places. Genesis 3:15 seems to foreshadow the birth of Christ and His defeat over Satan. Genesis 32 presents an example of God taking on human flesh when He wrestled with Jacob. Deuteronomy 18:18 states how a prophet greater than Moses is expected to come from amongst Israel. This is often regarded as the verse Christ is referring to in John 5:39 when He asserts how Moses testified to Him.

We also find Jesus in the Torah in a typological sense. The story of Moses and his relationship to Israel as a Deliverer and Mediator is very much a "type" to Christ. Other such "types" are found in the Passover Lamb first instituted in Exodus 12. This type very much inaugurates the sacrificial laws found throughout many other books such as Leviticus which serve as other types to Christ's Sacrifice.

Jesus' relationship to the Law

It can very well be said that Christ's relationship to the Law is that of Expectation-Fulfillment. In other words, Jesus is the fulfillment of the expectations foretold in the Mosaic Books. The Sacrificial mandates, the regulations, the requirements in the Decalogue all find their fullness and completion in the Person of Jesus Christ. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom.10:4). That is, Christ is the "goal" or "purpose" of the Law's demands and direction. What the Law seeks to arrive at or reach IS arrived at and reached in Jesus Christ.

The entire goal of the Law is righteousness before God and man. Naturally, God is the Law's primary concern, man the secondary concern. There is nothing else the Law serves to reach other than becoming righteous before God. But, since man has failed in all attempts at keeping the Law, it follows that righteousness is not attained by the Law. Thus, Jesus and the Good News offered in Him contain the full-value of the righteousness God requires. And, such righteousness is achieved by His blood and granted by faith alone (Rom.3:28; 5:28).