For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: “And he was numbered with the transgressors.” For what is written about me has its fulfillment. [Luke 22:37 ESV]
Jesus uses a different word to state He is fulfilling Hebrew Scripture prophecies about Himself. We think the word “fulfill” means to reward or make done. Here, this is exactly what the word means. Jesus says the Scriptural prophecies are concluded in Him by fulfilling the purpose intended by the prophecy. Jesus quotes from Isaiah “therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” [Isaiah 53:12 ESV]. Writing 700 years before Christ all of Isaiah 53 is an accurate depiction of the purpose and passion of Messiah.
Jesus uses a different word in Matthew 5:17. He is contrasting the difference between “destroying” which means to demolish or make null and void with “fulfill” which means to fill up or satisfy, to finish a task. In all cases of Messianic prophecy Jesus is the object of the prediction.
Here is the context of the above verse. It is Passover week and Jesus will die soon. He begins making predictions. He foretells the destruction of the Temple and the destruction of Jerusalem. Within 40 years Titus attacked Jerusalem and the Temple, the place built by Herod the Great was destroyed and many of its inhabitants were slaughtered.
Just before Passover Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare the meal for them. They asked where. Read what Jesus said they were to do.
He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. [Luke 22:10-13 ESV]
One of the personally compelling stories of Scripture is Peter denying Christ soon after declaring he would never deny his Lord. Jesus not only predicted Peter would deny Him but states why, “Satan demanded to have you” and that He had prayed for His disciple knowing he would “turn again” then commanding him to “strengthen your brothers” [Luke 22:31-32 ESV; see following verses]. Peter will do what Jesus has said he would do. Jesus predicted Peter’s betrayal and return. Peter betrayed Jesus and returned becoming one of the greatest witnesses to the resurrection of Christ and the hope and grace given by God.
Why do we not believe what Jesus says? Why do we not take Him at His word? Is he not the Word of God, the Author of Scripture, the Creator of all? These are only a few examples. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures written hundreds of years before, predicted what would happen within a generation of His resurrection and told His disciples what would happen that day.
Knowing what will happen and when is evidence of control over history. It is an essential aspect of dominion which is part of the image of God in man. God is the absolute object of faith and has omnipotent control over His creation, which is all things on earth and through eternity. We seek to control God’s actions by demanding to know what will happen beyond what is revealed by Him. How arrogant we are suggesting certain events demand God act.
Scripture tells us to love God and show our love for Him through obedience. Our whole person is caught up in loving God for it is the whole person God is redeeming. It is the whole person God has changed and is changing and will change into the likeness of Christ. We are told to prepare ourselves for Him not for His coming. Our obedience demands responsibility toward God’s will. Focusing upon ourselves or what is happening around us in the world will not inspire God to move faster. Jesus tells us to be aware of what is happening not to the point of obsession but as the act of a servant preparing themselves for the return of their master.
This attitude and motivation demands focused, deliberate and disciplined preparation according to the dictates and will of God.