Jesus Established the New Covenant, Hebrews 9-10
Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay for the sins of mankind. The blood that flowed from that magnificent sacrifice is the blood that seals the new and final covenant between God and man. Insofar as He brought the ultimate offering - i.e., Himself - up to the Father, Jesus became Mediator and High Priest of the new covenant. It is a covenant that is concerned with heavenly, spiritual, and eternal things: not with physical and temporal things, 9:11-15. Whereas the animal sacrifices of Moses were sufficient to seal the old covenant, which dealt with the material world, the greater sacrifice of Christ was sufficient to cleanse a people who are destined for a heavenly home, 9:19-23. Moreover, the animal sacrifices of the old law were reminders of sin; they did not have the power to take sin away, 10:1-4. This last fact flows from two principles: the only way we can pay for sin is with our lives (Genesis 2:16-17; Romans 6:23a); and no other creature on earth is as valuable as a human (Genesis 1:27; 9:1-6). Jesus, however, lived a perfectly flawless life, and willingly sacrificed it for the sake of others. Thus, He satisfied the requirements of justice, and truly paid the price for sin, 10:11-18. Note that, in establishing this new covenant, Jesus removed the old one, 10:8-9.
As Jeremiah had prophesied, the new covenant is very different from the old one, Hebrews 8:7-13. In the covenant made with Israel at Sinai, God's people were defined physically: they were descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Under the new covenant, God's people are defined inwardly, spiritually: they have His law in their minds and on their hearts. Seeing as the mind and heart are the seat of decision-making, the implication is that God's people are those whose lives are shaped by His word. At Sinai, God's people Israel promised to obey Him, Exodus 24:3-8. In the new covenant, God's people are by definition those who obey Him, Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus showed us by example how to be one of God's people: He obeyed the Father, Philippians 2:5-8. If we are not obeying God, we are not following Jesus Christ - we are not among His people.
Jesus Rules His Spiritual Kingdom, I Corinthians 15:20-28
Because of the prophecies that had been given earlier, the people were in an ongoing state of eager expectation, awaiting the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom. Naturally, they were expecting a physical, earthly kingdom, as can be seen in such instances as that recorded in John 6:15. But what Jesus actually established is a kingdom far more wonderful than man could ever have imagined!
Jesus clearly stated that His kingdom is not an earthly one, John 18:36-37. Insofar as this fleshly existence is concerned, Jesus' kingdom is not visible, because it is concerned with spiritual things, the inner man: Luke 17:20-21. Jesus rules in the hearts and minds of His loyal subjects, Romans 8:9. Insofar as many of His subjects are still confined to a fleshly existence in this material world, it is evident that Jesus is ruling in the midst of His enemies, as was prophesied in Psalm 110:2.
The kingdom is established, and Jesus is seated upon the heavenly throne of which David's throne was a mere shadow, Acts 2:25-36. It is a glorious throne and a glorious kingdom, Hebrews 12:22-24. Although in this present existence we see the kingdom only by faith, we who have submitted to Christ as our King eagerly wait for the day when the faith is made sight, and our glorious condition in Christ is fully manifested: Romans 8:18-19; II Corinthians 4:16-5:11; Revelation 22:1-5.
Jesus Fulfills Prophecy, Isaiah 2:1-4
It would not be possible to discuss the hundreds of prophecies which Jesus fulfilled, so we will look at this one in Isaiah as an example. First, we are told that God will be establishing a mountain on top of mountains - which gives us a clue that this prophecy is not going to have a literal, physical fulfillment. We are then told that nations will flow to God's mountain in order to learn His ways. We find that God's holy mountain is called Zion, and His house is called Jerusalem, and that God's ordinances will flow from there. (Physically and literally, Mount Zion is the city of David, the oldest part of the city of Jerusalem, II Samuel 5:6-7). Finally, we are told that people of different nations will live together in peace.
Turning to the New Testament, we find that there is a heavenly Jerusalem which is the mother of Christ's followers, Galatians 4:26. We find further that Jesus, having given Himself as the payment for sin, ascends to the right hand of God the Father on spiritual Zion in heavenly Jerusalem, Hebrews 12:22-24. People of all nations come to Him for salvation, and when they heed His law, they live in peace with one another, Colossians 3:9-11. Jesus completely fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, and in a much more wonderful way than man could ever have imagined.
Jesus Fulfills the Law, Matthew 5:17-48
Jesus proclaimed that He came to fulfill the Law of Moses. He did so in at least two ways. First, He fulfilled the law legislatively. In other words, He brought in a law, or rules of conduct, that made the Law of Moses unnecessary. We can see examples of this in the immediate context: whereas Moses had forbidden murder, Jesus forbids the anger that can lead to murder, verses 21-22; Moses forbade adultery, but Jesus forbids the longing looks that and lustful thoughts that can lead to the act, verses 27-28; and so on. Those who obey Jesus' law will be transformed from the inside out into the kind of people who do not need a law like the one God had given through Moses - Galatians 5:18-25.
But there is another way in which Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses. The old law pointed out sin, and the need for a sacrifice to take sin away, but it contained no solution to this problem, Romans 3:9-20. Jesus, in offering that once-for-all-time sacrifice, fulfilled the very need to which the old law so insistently pointed, verses 21-26.
Jesus Fulfills the Promises to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3
God promised to make Abraham into a great nation; in fact, He later promises to make him the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4-5). In Romans 4:13-18, we find that all people of all nations who come to Jesus Christ with the kind of faith that Abraham had, are Abraham's descendants in God's eyes. Moreover, we are all made into one holy nation in Christ, I Peter 2:9-10. Thus, in Christ, Abraham has been made into a great nation of innumerable descendants representing many nations. So, whereas this promise was fulfilled in a limited, physical sense in Old Testament times, it is ultimately and eternally fulfilled in Christ.
God also promised Abraham a land, and this, too, was physically fulfilled in the Old Testament, Joshua 21:43-45. However, Jesus, Abraham's greatest descendant, leads His people to an eternal land which can never be taken away, Hebrews 12:25-29.
Finally God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed in his descendants. Jesus died on the cross so that men and women of every nation would have the opportunity to be forgiven of their sins and enjoy eternal life, Romans 1:16. Thus, all nations of the earth are blessed in Christ. All who follow Him are Abraham's heirs, and recipients of the promises, Galatians 3:26-29.
Jesus Fulfills the Entire Old Testament, Luke 24:44-45
The Old Testament, by itself, aches for fulfillment. It is full of unanswered questions and unfulfilled prophecies - it is a mystery. The mystery is revealed in Christ, Ephesians 3:8-12. It would not be possible to give an exhaustive account of all the ways in which Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, but you are encouraged to read the following articles, as presenting just a glimmer of the light that is Jesus Christ.
How to Follow Jesus to Heaven, Acts 2:36-38
Obviously, these men believe that Jesus is the Son of God: otherwise, they would not be interested in following Him! Their confession of faith in Him is implicit in their question. But let us consider what Peter told this group of believers they had to do. First, he tells them that they must repent. Repentance is a change of heart - a decision. It is brought on by godly sorrow, II Corinthians 7:10. True repentance always bears fruit - actions that are consistent with the new attitude, Matthew 3:7-9. In short, Peter is telling us that we must make a decision to stop following whatever we have been following, and start following Jesus.
Next, Peter tells them that they must be baptized. Baptism is immersion in water, as can be seen in such passages as John 3:23 (sprinkling and pouring do not require much water); Acts 8:38-39 (sprinkling and pouring do not require us to go down into a body of water); and Colossians 2:12 (sprinkling and pouring could hardly be described as a burial). The English word "baptize" is a transliteration of the Greek "baptizo," which means "to immerse, to dunk, to dip."
Peter further tells them that baptism is "for the remission of sins." If baptism follows repentance, and it is for the remission of sins, it is clear that baptism is not something that can be done to a baby. In fact, it is at the point of baptism that our sins are taken away, Acts 22:16. It is at the point of baptism that we partake of Christ's atoning death, Romans 6:3-6. Thus it is said that believers are "baptized into Christ," Galatians 3:27. If we wish to partake of the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), we must be baptized into Him.
Baptism is not the end of the story, of course; it is rather a new beginning. We must continue to obey God, Matthew 7:21-23. In short, we become followers (i.e. disciples) of Jesus Christ today by following the pattern that Jesus Himself gave to His apostles, Matthew 28:18-20.
Have you been baptized into Christ? If not, why are you waiting? If you are considering putting on Christ, please feel free to contact us; we would be thrilled to have the opportunity to help you!