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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: What Was Jesus' Relationship to the Law of Moses?

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What Was Jesus’ Relationship to the Law of Moses?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 7

The law that God gave to Moses for the people Israel was a central part of their existence. It was the perfect standard by which they were to conduct their lives. Though the law was perfect, it revealed how imperfect each individual was. The law gave people the knowledge of sin but not the solution. Paul wrote,

For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 NRSV)

Scripture says the following about the relationship of Jesus to the Old Testament law.

1. Jesus Was Born under Law

Jesus was born under, or subject to, the Law of Moses. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the Galatians:

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. (Galatians 4:4, 5 NLT)

Jesus was subject to being obedient to the Law of Moses.

2. He Was Sinless under the Law

Jesus was also sinless under the law. In the Gospel of John, it records Him giving the following testimony of His own behavior:

Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46 NRSV)

With respect to the Law, Jesus was without sin.

3. Jesus Fulfilled the Law

Jesus, as the promised Messiah, came and fulfilled the Law of Moses. He testified to the purpose of His coming to the world:

Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. (Matthew 5:17 CEV)

He fulfilled the Law down to the smallest detail.

4. Jesus Kept the Law

Jesus is the only person who has ever kept the law perfectly. He did everything the law required, never once breaking any of its commandments. Because He was sinless, Jesus was able to meet the requirements of the law to be the perfect sacrifice. His death redeemed humanity from the curse of the law. Paul wrote,

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”. (Galatians 3:13 NRSV)

Jesus perfectly kept the Law.

5. Jesus Taught the Law

Jesus faithfully taught the law. He rejected the unbiblical traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees. On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus:

An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?” The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’” (Luke 10:25-27 CEV)

Jesus was a faithful teacher of the Law of Moses.

6. the Curse of the Law Was Removed by His Death

The curse that the law had over humanity was now removed. The death of Christ meant that those who were previously slaves under the law could become the children of God and heirs to His promises. The Bible says,

But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children. Now that we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. And his Spirit tells us that God is our Father. You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and you will be given what he has promised. (Galatians 4:4-7 CEV)

Christ has taken away the bondage of the law for the believer and given freedom in the place of slavery.

7. There Is a New Law of Christ

Those who have become Christians are now under the law of Christ. Jesus told His disciples what they are now to do:

“I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other”. (John 13:34, 35 God’s Word)

The mark, or brand, of the Christian is the love believers will have one for another.

Paul also wrote about the Law of Christ. He said,

Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NLT)

The law of Christ is to love others as Jesus has loved us.

In sum, the Law of Moses is no longer operating in the lives of believers. We now have a greater law to follow; the Law of Christ.

Summary – Question 7
What Was Jesus’ Relationship with the Law of Moses?

When Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into our world the people of Israel were under the law of God also known as the “Law of Moses. The Bible tells us of the relationship of Jesus Christ to the Law of Moses. We can summarize it as follows.

First, Jesus Christ was born under the Law. When He came into this world the Law of Moses was in place.

While the Law was in place, Jesus Christ was sinless under the law. Indeed, He fulfilled the Law perfectly, keeping all its commandments.

In addition, we find that Jesus faithfully taught the Law to others. He was not a lawbreaker in any sense of the Word.

The New Testament emphasizes that His death on the cross removed the curse of the law from humanity. The responsibility of people now is not to obey the Law of Moses but rather believe in Jesus Christ. This is how a person gets into a right relationship with God.

Believers in Christ thus have a new law to follow. These are the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A sign, or mark, that people are believers in Jesus is the love which they will have one for another. This is how the world will know the identity of the true believers.

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