God Lost His Relationship
John the Baptist didn’t think it right to baptize Jesus, but Jesus said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).” What does this mean? The Bible says that John’s baptism was for repentance, but Jesus had no sin and no reason to repent. Jesus was adamant though. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness. The key to what Jesus meant is in the word ‘righteous.’ Understanding this principle can be a breakthrough in our spiritual life.
This word has come to mean holy and that is true. But there is a deeper meaning. It means to make things right. For example, if I own a milk cow and Joe Blow comes onto my property, steals my cow, butchers it and sells the meat, then we have a problem. He broke the law. I would call the police. He would be arrested and thrown in jail. The only problem is that I still don’t have a milkcow to support my family. In this case, justice was done, but things were not made right.
In the Old Testament, there is a concept called restitution. Restitution is making things right. Restitution goes further than just replacing what has been stolen. For example, if a man stole an ox, he had to repay that person with five oxen. Now, that is making things right.
Things Had to Be Made Right
When Adam sinned, it robbed God of the relationship He desired with His creation. God made us for Him (Colossians 1:16), but He lost the full communion He had in the Garden of Eden because of sin. The law dictated the punishment was for man to experience the spirit of death and we do. We experience the spirit of death all the time. It is evidenced by our sin because the sting of death is sin. But this punishment did not make things right. God then established the law as a way of making things right, but He knew from the beginning the law would never be enough. In His foreknowledge, God declared that one day there would be a ‘righteous’ one to come.
5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
Until the Righteous One came, we had the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic law gave the people all of the rituals and ceremonies they needed in order to stay in relationship with the Lord. As they followed all of these religious regulations, they were constantly quoting Scripture, offering sacrifices, and worshiping at the Temple. It might seem that this would work to restore what God had lost, but it didn’t. The people kept all of the observances. Yet, while they praised God with their lips, there was rebellion in their heart. The law was insufficient righteousness. It kept God’s people near Him, but without the unfettered intimacy He desired. The Law did not make things right. But Jesus came, He fulfilled all righteousness. He did not abolish the law, but fulfilled it.
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.
The law could not change the hearts of the people. Though they went through the motions of religious devotion, their hearts never fully returned to God. But Jesus reaches back to the Mosaic law, and by His death on the cross, He fulfills the law perfecting it in a way to make things right. This is why the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit restored intimacy between man and God and everything was made right.
Jesus Added Love to the Law
When Jesus became the lamb of God, He gave the law what was missing. He added love to the religious activity of worship and offerings. The law did not bring our hearts back to Him, but His love for us did. He did not erase the command to worship and obey Him, but He displayed His love so that we would want to worship and obey.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
This is why God spoke audibly when Jesus was baptized. The people needed to know that the same God who spoke to their nation at Mount Sinai was now speaking to them again so they would know that Jesus was His Son. His voice at Jesus’ baptism makes it clear that the same God who gave the law was now giving His own Son to do what the law couldn’t.
The Old Covenant required a priest to offer sacrifices on behalf of men. When John baptized Jesus, He washed His body. The Holy Spirit lighted upon Him in the form of a dove. Jesus’ baptism mirrors the consecration ceremony of Old Testament priests who were required to wash then be anointed with oil symbolizing the Holy Spirit. This was only the beginning of how Jesus fulfilled all righteousness.
Jesus Fulfilled All Righteousness
On the 10th day of the 1st month, the people were to choose their Passover lamb. On that same day of the month, Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people chose Him with the waving of palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna!” The Passover lamb was slaughtered on the 14th day of the month. It was the 14th day of Nisan when Jesus died. We get confused by this because He died on Friday, but this is due to the Jewish day begins at sunset. The point though is Jesus died at the same time as the people slaughtered the Passover Lambs.
The atonement sacrifice which covered all the sins of the nation making it possible for anyone to receive forgiveness should they repent. The high priest would take the blood of the lamb and go behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies and splatter the blood on the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant represents the throne of Heaven. It was a wooden box with gold on the inside and out. It represents Christ who came from the golden glory of Heaven to the wood of Calvary and returned to the glory again. When they nailed him to the wood, they splattered and sprinkled His blood all over His body in the same way they splattered blood on the Ark of the Covenant.
And the Bible says that He also offered Himself. This is important because only the High Priest could do this. Jesus was baptized and consecrated as a priest for this very reason. As the High Priest of Heaven, He did not go through the curtain of the Earthly temple but the curtain of Heaven. Through all of this, He was keeping with the insufficient law and perfecting to make things right.
You Can Trust Him!
Jesus fulfilled all righteousness of the Old Covenant and established the New Covenant. The Old Covenant required devotion and sacrifice and so does the new. But now, because of the sacrifice of Christ, the perfect sacrifice has been offered and there is no need for blood sacrifices. But we God still commands us to give our bodies as living sacrifices and to offer up a sacrifice of praise. We are to give generously to the Lord financially. All of this is our part of the Covenant. The Old Testament offerings were not sufficient, but now when we give our sacrifices of worship, our High Priest perfects our gifts to the Lord and makes them perfect to completely restore our relationship with God. This releases the Father to fulfill His part of the Covenant which is to bless us and make us a blessing (Genesis 15).
If you are not giving to the Lord, you are out of Covenant. We need to give our bodies as living sacrifice. This is obedience to the Word. We need to worship Him in spirit which is a sacrifice of praise. And we need to offer Him our financial gifts to acknowledge that He is God our Provider.
You can trust Him. If God kept His promises to the nation of Israel even though they were offering dirty sheep through unholy men dressed up to look like holy priests, how much more will God keep His promises when Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and our great High priest. You can trust Him. Trust Him with your life, your worship, your money, your everything. Look at all He did for the nation of Israel. How many nations came against them but don’t even exist anymore. The Roman empire is dead and Israel is still here. If God did all that He did for them through insufficient righteousness, how much more will He do for us today through the fulfillment of righteousness in Christ?