Saturday, February 19, 2011
Fulfilling God's Word
"Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
When Jesus read Isaiah 61, there was a tension in the text. For most who had read the Scriptures, it was a common feeling and the tension didn’t bother them at all. But for Jesus, he lived with it and it bothered him greatly. The tension he could not ignore is that every time he read the Scriptures, there were promises of God which had not been fulfilled. There were promises of justice, promises of salvation, promises of healing and none of them had been fulfilled. These were words of God which were empty and could not be filled up until they were accomplished. The tension bothered Jesus so much that he would pray for these promises to be fulfilled, but he did not see it happen. Finally, the Father told Jesus that he was the first step to having them fulfilled by being the Son of God. In this way, he could finally say to the people, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled.”
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill...Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Jesus looked around him and saw many teachers of God’s word that were claiming to fill up the empty words of God, but they did no such thing. Sure, the Pharisees were good at tithing and keeping the Sabbath in a certain way, but they were not filling up God’s empty words. They were expert on filling up the words of their teachers, but not of God’s Word. They would tithe, but not for the sake of others. They would keep the Sabbath, but in order to judge others, not do mercy to them. Even so, Jesus said, the ones who truly kept the law of Moses would fulfill it by enacting love. And anyone who did not live in this way would not enter the kingdom of God.
"Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets."
Jesus was in a difficult situation—he was being arrested and would soon be killed. His disciples saw a problem and bravely determined to stand in the way—until Jesus stopped them. He said to the disciples and to the crowds who were arresting him, “I don’t want to end this way. I don’t want to die. But to have the Scriptures be filled—to allow God to be glorified by his Word—that is more important than anything I might have to suffer.” And so Jesus made the choice to not fulfill his own needs so he could fulfill God’s Word.
"These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
At the end of all things, Jesus reveals that his whole life was about having the Scriptures be filled up. Every part of the Scripture that hadn’t been fulfilled, he would take care of. Some scriptures he had no control over—that some would kill him, for instance, or that God would heal. But Jesus made sure that he was in the right place at the right time so that they could be fulfilled, if God so desired.
Romans 8:4/Romans 13:8/Galatians 5:14
So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
The whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
All three of these passages are by Paul and they all say the same thing. We are to fulfill the Scriptures, just like Jesus. We are to see the Scriptures as an empty vessel that needs to be filled by our lives. But the way the Scriptures are fulfilled is by doing what we do for God, but in the context of loving others. Whoever is in need, we are to do our best to help them. Whoever is in trouble, we are to help them. We are to use everything we have, all we are to do good to everyone, without exception. And in this way, we live out the whole law.
Peter Valdez (Waldo) was a wealthy merchant in the 12th century. He had a hunger to know about Jesus, and so desired to read the Scriptures. Unfortunately, the Scriptures were only available in Latin in those days, not in the common languages. So he paid a monk to translate the Gospels into a language he understood. When he read the life and the teaching of Jesus, it stunned him. Even though he had listened to sermons all his life, he found that he did not life out Jesus’ life at all—and that it had never been taught to him! Jesus said to “Sell your possessions and give to the poor,” but Peter was a wealthy man, living in luxury! Jesus said to go out and proclaim the gospel, and Peter never knew what the gospel was to proclaim it! After much prayer, Peter decided to give away all of his possessions and to sell his house and to be a poor preacher and to teach others to do the same, all in order to fulfill the Scriptures.
Living It Out:
Know God’s Word—
We cannot fulfill God’s word unless we listen to it. This doesn’t mean listening to teachers, it means reading, memorizing and listening to God’s word itself.
Commit to doing what Jesus said—
Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, the way it is accessible to us and understandable. Thus, do all you can to fulfill Jesus’ word and you will have fulfilled it all.
Put yourself in situations to fulfill God’s Word—
Place yourself in situations that allow you to speak and do God’s word. If it says to serve others, put yourself in a place where you can! If it says to speak God’s word, put yourself in a situation where you can! Do this for every word the Spirit prompts you to obey—if you are in the right situation, you will be able to do it!
In whatever situation, love others—
In all that you do, act in love. Do all that you can to assist others and to help them in their needs. Do all of this in accordance with the Bible, but do it in God’s love. Anyone can pick out principles to live out from God’s word, but only those with God’s help can fulfill the word in love.
Seek to fulfill God’s word more than your life—
Many of us want our lives to be “fulfilling”, but we mean fulfilling to ourselves, not God. If we want to fill God’s word with our lives, we need to set our notions of what our lives should be aside. Only if we do that will we be able to see God’s word accomplished in our lives.
See how the Old Testament was fulfilled in Jesus life, then seek to have it filled in our own!—
Jesus didn’t only look to promises that needed to be fulfilled, he also saw stories in the Bible that needed a new ending. The Israelites came out of Egypt—just like Jesus—but the Israelites were not faithful and Jesus was! David wandered in the wilderness—just like Jesus—but David gave into temptation and Jesus didn’t! And on and on. See how Jesus fulfills these stories and then see how you can live it out yourself.