“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.” (Matthew 5:17)
Jesus’ coming to earth signaled a new era. In the centuries preceding His birth, God had already revealed Himself to the people of Israel by giving His laws and rules, and then also by prophetic messages. Many of these we find in the Old Testament. Large portions of these laws and prophecies pointed forward to Jesus, the Messiah.
Now that He has actually come to earth, the question arises as to whether the ancient writings can now be abolished. No, says Jesus, they are not abolished but fulfilled in Him. He obeys God’s laws perfectly according to their true intent. He fulfills the prophecies about a coming Savior. He soon brings the only sufficient Sacrifice by dying on the cross, fulfilling all the sacrificial ceremonies. The Old Testament does not lose its authority, but rather finds its deepest fulfillment in the Lord Jesus. As a result, the old laws are now seen in a whole new light.
We cannot obey God’s laws perfectly, and thus fail to fulfill their intent. But Jesus did, making everyone who believes in Him righteous and perfect in God’s eyes (see Romans 10:4). And by His Spirit, we too are more and more able to live according to God’s will, as renewed and liberated people.