The Aim and Goal of the Law
Christ Fulfils the Law
Love God and love your neighbor. That’s the whole law in a nutshell. The aim and goal of all laws and commands is love. Love is the law. We Christians know this about the law because it is revealed to us through Christ Jesus. Through Jesus’ words and work we know that we are judged by the law, since He shows us plainly that we cannot obey it, not from a pure, unselfish heart. We see now that there is no hope or comfort anywhere for us, and we cannot even help ourself. Instead, we must have someone else come and rescue us from the righteous judgment of God’s pure and holy law.
Therefore, it is time that we stop looking at ourselves and each other for solutions to the law’s demands, and instead look around for He who can help us. Jesus became a man for this reason. He became a man so that He can help us out of the quicksand into which we have fallen. He loved God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself. He submitted His will to the will of His Father. He fulfilled the law in every way. He did all this because we couldn’t do it even though we must do it.
God accepts all that Jesus does, all that He did to fulfill the law, to give it to us. He freely gives us His obedience, selflessness, all His life with all His works so that we can receive them as our own possession. Jesus’ life and work is now ours through faith.
Jesus and all His works are given to us as a free gift. He delivers us from the law’s demands and threats, because when the law says, “Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself, or you’ll be damned,” and we say, “But I can’t do it,” Jesus says to you: “Come to me. Take me. Cling to me by faith, then you’ll be rid of the law.”
When we believe from the heart that Jesus did this for us sinners in His ‘for-youness’, we receive also the same Holy Spirit Who makes us an entirely new man. Then everything God commands is sweet, lovely and agreeable, and we do everything He desires from us, not in our own strength, but by the strength of Him Who is at work in us, as St. Paul says in Philippians [4:13]: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
This is the purpose of the question Jesus puts to the Pharisees: “What do you think about the Christ? Who is he and whose Son is he?” Jesus reveals to them that they don’t know the law and they do not obey the law. They do not know how bad their situation is. They do not know how much they need Jesus in the present tense, right now. They do not know the law and they know even less about their need for a Savior because they think they have done enough, when the fact is they have done nothing at all!
Christ on the Cross
We may do the works God commands outwardly, but God isn’t satisfied by that, when they are not done from the heart out of selfless love. And this is never done unless we are born anew through the Holy Spirit and water in baptism. Then we are a beloved child of God. Then we have Jesus and all His work in His ‘for-youness’ as gift.
This is why Christians cling to Christ’s Good Friday ‘for-youness’ work, not to their best efforts at obeying God’s law. This is why Christians trust in God’s baptismal promises instead of their own works. This is why Christians eat and drink Christ Jesus’ body and his blood rather than offering up their blood, sweat, and tears to God. Then, Christian faith will be strengthened and love stirred up, not as a reward for our faithfulness to God’s commands but on account of all Jesus has accomplished for us on our behalf.
Then we will see that love is done, that good works are done, that the law is done not by what we do, but by Who we trust. We trust Jesus Who, on the cross, had all the law and prophets hung on Him. Jesus Who, on the cross, poured out His love for us from His pierced side. Water and blood poured out on us so that even at the times when we are weighed down, hopeless, fidgety and fearful about our inability to obey God’s good and holy law, we can say: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”