VIII. Christ not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

MATT. v. 17. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law,
or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
THIS is one of those sayings of our Lord which exhibit
“His enormous personal pretensions,” which from any
man’s lips would have been blasphemy and intolerable im-
pertinence. Prophets always appealed to the law of God
as their authority; but Christ speaks as if He needed
no higher authority for His mission than His own.
Twice over He says “I am come,” as if to place Him-
self far above all prophets that were ever “sent of God.”
I. The greatness of the assumption here made by Christ:
“I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.” Taking the ful-
filment of the law to mean the rendering to it an absolute
and faultless obedience, Christ first asserts his own sin-
lessness. He declares He had come to render a full and
perfect obedience to the law of God. But He came to fulfil
the law also by completing and explaining its moral and
disciplinary training. The law is unintelligible without
Christ. He asserts His own power and right to “fill out”
the law and the prophets, throwing new life on both, taking
the letter of the law and expanding it into richer spiritual
significance, making men feel that God’s command was
“exceeding broad.” Christ accepts the prophecies of the
Old Testament as Divine, and points to Himself as their
fulfilment.
II. These words of Jesus reveal to us the historical
continuity of Christianity. It was founded on a great and
glorious past, of which it was the Divine development.
To destroy Christianity it is not enough to get rid of
the miracle of Gospel history; you must also destroy
the history of the Jewish Church.
III. These words teach us the permanent authority of
all the moral principles of the Jewish law. One might as
well ask if the authority of conscience is still to be recog-
nised by Christian men, as ask whether the moral law of
Judaism is still binding on the Church. Nothing that is
moral can ever be destroyed. We do not need the light of
stars when the sun is risen; but the stars are shining still.
G. S. Barrett, B.Aarrett, B.A.

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