“The Law and Prophets Fulfilled!”

Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). What does it mean that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets? And what does it mean to us as the people of God? What relationship do we as Christians have to the Law and the Prophets? Must we obey them, or did Christ usher in a new era thus ending our obligation to keep the law of Moses? To adequately answer these questions, we must understand Matthew 5:17 in its immediate context (5:17-20, 21-48), and in the context of the New Testament. Other teaching concerning the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic Law, especially in Paul’s epistles and the epistle to the Hebrews, must be consulted.
To answer the first question, Christ not only fulfilled the law by perfectly keeping it, He is the substance of which the law was only a shadow (Col.2:16-17; Heb.10:1-4). In other words, the law pointed to Christ and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Him! Christ fulfilled the prophets in that the predictions they made came to fruition in His life and ministry. He is the ultimate fulfillment of all the prophesies of the Old Testament (Luke 24:44). But He also fulfilled the prophets in that He embodied the righteousness to which they called the people of Israel who were under the Old Covenant.
That Jesus warned people not to think He came to destroy the Law and the Prophets indicates that some might have drawn this conclusion from His teaching and actions (Mat.12:1-8, 9-14, 15:1-20). In Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:21-48 there is more than a hint that the Law of Moses might not continue as the rule of life for His followers. In fact, when He sends them out to make other disciples, Jesus insists that His new followers obey all He has commanded not all Moses commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).