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This devotion is part of the Jesse Tree Advent devotion series. 

Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 5:1-22

On the one hand, the Ten Commandments seem fairly easy to keep. No idols—check. Don’t murder—check. Don’t steal—got it. We might get the impression that it’s within our power to do right, to keep the commandments, even to earn God’s love.

But as Jesus expounds upon the commandments in Matthew 5–7, obedience starts to seem less and less attainable. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus says to the crowd (Matthew 5:48). Be perfect? That’s nigh impossible.

Until we remember how the whole thing works. Jesus is the true human. He’s the one perfectly reflecting the image of God (Colossians 1:15). And he hasn’t come “to abolish the law” (Matthew 5:17) by dismissing it as no longer relevant in an age of love and forgiveness. Nor has he come to make it ridiculously hard to keep, although we could stand to be reminded that we’re incapable of earning our salvation by perfectly keeping the law. Instead, says Jesus, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

Ah yes, that’s right. Jesus comes to fulfill the law, to keep the commandments that we fail to keep, to reverse the Fall, and to break the curse. He does what we cannot. And when we are united to him by the power of the Holy Spirit, we mysteriously keep the law, too. Praise God!

Prayer

Jesus, I don’t understand it completely, but I am so thankful that your life fulfills the law I daily fail to keep. Holy Spirit, work that mysterious process in me, and make me one with Christ. Amen.

About the author

Grace Claus is resident theologian and editor for Faithward. She's also managing editor of RCA Today, the denominational magazine of the Reformed Church in America.