In The Fullest
With crowds pressing in all around Him, Jesus climbed up a mountain. As He sat down, His disciples came to him, ready to learn. Sitting there with His closest friends and The Church that would be raised up in His own name, Jesus opened his mouth and began to teach the disciples (Matthew 5). In the middle of the sermon on the mount, I imagine Jesus leaning in and looking right in their eyes when He said: "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:15 ESV)
Everything that Jesus said was of monumental importance, but for some reason as I read this passage I imagine Him leaning in to make sure His disciples got it. Really got it.. Perhaps this is because I am leaning in now as I read Jesus' words, realizing how important this concept is to my faith. Our faith.
Jesus went on to say "For truly, I say to you. until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until it all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:16 ESV)
I always thought of this passage in the most black and white of ways:
We are under the law, which we can never fulfill through a perfect life, because we are sinners.
Jesus lived a perfect life for us, and died the death we deserve as sinners
We are redeemed In Him and free from sin and death, able to commune with God eternally.
While this is correct, I easily forget that God did not make this world in black and white, but in an explosion of brilliant colors. This tapestry of grace that He has weaved together is so much more diverse and rich.
Jesus' life was not simply transactional, but a manifestation of God's deep and overflowing well of love.
We cannot look at the cross or at Jesus' life as simply transactional. When we stop long enough to look, and I mean really look, we begin to see what Jesus meant leaning in to tell his disciples "I have not come to abolish [the law and prophets], but to fulfill them", and "truly not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until it is accomplished."
Jesus gave up His throne in heaven to come down and assume the life of a mere man. This Christmas, what if we stopped for a moment to think what the assumption of manhood really meant for Christ?
Saint John of Damascus said this:
What is unassumable is incurable. Not one iota, not one dot.
Jesus put on our pain. He walked around with the same blood coursing through his veins that we do. Humiliation, pain, and loss walked as closely to Jesus as is does to us, although I cannot imagine living and walking amongst the fall of man as Creator, who understood precisely how horrific our depravity really is. The depth of Jesus' pain on earth must have been very deep indeed.
Yet, the whole Christ assumed the whole me. He left not one iota, not one dot, out of his existence as God-Man on this earth so there would be not one iota, not one dot of our existence left incurable. I think of this as Jesus stood on another mountaintop, this time with the enemy whispering in His ear. I think of this assumption as Jesus wept over Lazarus' death. I think of the Pharisees, the religious leaders, or even Jesus' own family who called Him crazy or much worse.
Jesus fully knows what is is to be man. He did not leave one iota out when assuming our place on the cross, or in His life on earth. Christ did not only fulfill the Law and what the prophets foretold, but He fulfilled our need for sacrifice.
Jesus' life was not a transaction of abolition. It was an assumption of fulfillment.
Let us not remember the infant Christ born this Christmas, and fast forward to Christ as the man on the cross at Easter. As Saint John said, what is unassumable is incurable. Jesus did not come simply to abolish the law through a transaction of blood. He came to assume all that it is to be a man: all that is it to be YOU and I, to fulfill completely our redemption.
Whatever is weighing on your heart this season, know Jesus bore it. He will bear it still, if you give it up to Him. Whatever pain is pressing down on you, know Jesus assumed it and let Himself be crushed by it so you wouldn't have to.
Jesus did not leave anything out of His mission to redeem you to Himself. Not one dot, not an iota.