10 Reasons Why Jesus Surpasses the Law and the Prophets

There are at least 10 different verses in the New Testament that very specifically identify Jesus as the one and only example for what the Father is really like.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Before I share those verses with you here, let me ask you to notice a few things:

First, notice that in nearly every case Jesus is either explicitly contrasted with the Old Testament Prophets, or it is implicitly suggested that He is the superior source for information about who God is and what God is like.

Secondly, please notice that whenever the New Testament says something about Jesus, it doesn’t affirm that the Old Testament was right and Jesus confirmed it. Instead, it often either ignores what the Old Testament claims or flat-out contradicts it.

This is pretty significant, really. Because it’s not as if the authors of the New Testament were ignorant about what the Old Testament said about God. Yet, their claims about Jesus very boldly supersede those claims made by the Law and the Prophets.

To help you see this, I will point out examples of how these explicit and implicit contrasts are made between Jesus and the Old Testament prophets, just in case they are not obvious.

Ready? Ok, here we go, according to the New Testament:

1) Who does God speak to us through today? (Not Moses. Not Elijah.)

Jesus.

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:1–3, NIV)

2) Who is the one mediator between God and man? (Not the Law. Not the Prophets.)

Jesus.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Tim. 2:5)

3) Who is the one instructor who teaches us? (Not the Law. Not the Prophets.)

Jesus.

“For you have one instructor – the Messiah.” (Matt. 23:10)

4) Who is the one we should listen to? (Not Moses. Not Elijah.)

Jesus.

*After removing Moses [the Law] and Elijah [the Prophets], God says: “This is my Son. Listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:4-6)

5) Who is the only one who removes the veil that covers the Old Testament scriptures?

Only Jesus.

“For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”  (2. Cor. 3:14-16)

6) Where is the one place we can go to find life? (Not to the scriptures.)

Jesus.

“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” [John 4:39-40]

7) Who is the only one who has ever seen God at any time? (Not Moses. Not Elijah.)

Jesus.

No one has ever seen God, but God, the one and only [Jesus] makes Him known.” [John 1:17-18]

8) Who is the “Word of God”? (Not your Bible.)

Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” [John 1:1; 14)

9) Who reveals the Truth to us about the Father?

 No one but Jesus.

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” (John 14:6-7)

Please note in this list of scriptures above how easy it would have been for the New Testament writers to affirm the Old Testament and exalt Jesus at the same time. 

But that’s not what they do.

For example, in John 1:17-18, if the author had intended to protect the witness of the Old Testament prophets who claimed they saw God and wanted to affirm their testimony about God’s character, how easy it would have been to say something like this:

“Whereas Moses and Elijah had also seen God in the past, Jesus came from God as the Word made flesh to confirm their testimony.”

But, what he wrote sounds nothing like that. Not at all. It says this:

No one has ever seen God, but God, the one and only [Jesus] makes Him known.” (John 1:17-18)

That’s pretty harsh. It’s almost as if John is trying to make a point here. He wants to say that, until Jesus came, we did not have an accurate revelation about who God was and what God was like.

Let’s think of it another way: Let’s say that John wanted to communicate to us that Jesus’s testimony about the Father was accurate but the testimony of the Old Testament Prophets was inaccurate. How might he do that? Maybe he would say something like:

“No one except Jesus has seen the Father. Jesus came to reveal the Father to us because our ideas about God were less than exact.”

Or…he might say it like this:

“No one has ever seen God at any time, but God, the one and only [Jesus] makes Him known.” (John 1:17-18)

Now, we shouldn’t assume that Matthew was just using hyperbole or that he had a momentary lapse of memory. Clearly, he was aware that there was something called the Old Testament and that people in the past, like Moses and Elijah, had claimed to see God and to hear from Him.

That’s why his statement is so radical: “No one has ever seen God…”

The same could be said for every other verse above. If the authors had wanted to affirm the Old Testament, they had every opportunity to do so. Instead, they very boldly contrast Jesus with the Law and the Prophets and emphasize the supremacy of Christ.

Now, before you break out the pitchforks let me say that I do believe the Law and the Prophets point us to Christ. In fact, they do that beautifully. We should be very grateful for the Old Testament scriptures that foreshadow the coming of Jesus.

Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them, and this is exactly what He did. 

Because of this fulfillment, those scriptures have become obsolete and are fading away. [See Hebrews 8:13; 2 Cor. 3:7-11; Gal.4:30-31]

What we have now is the Living Word who is alive inside us.

He has written His law on our hearts. This is what the new covenant is all about. [See Jeremiah 31:31]

So, if anyone is to blame for pitting Jesus against Moses or Elijah, or against the Old Testament scriptures, it’s Paul, Matthew, John and the author of Hebrews, not me.

All I’ve done here is to quote those verses that they wrote and pointed out the obvious.

The rest, I believe, speaks for itself.

10) “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

If I am guilty of anything, it is that I have taken those 10 verses above at face value and I have exalted Jesus above everyone and everything else.

That’s something I can live with.

**

Keith Giles is the author of “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” and the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his family live in Orange, California.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • bill wald

    I’m a “legalist.” Please give me the list of laws that Jesus requires me to (work at) obeying. I find “Love God and be a good neighbor” insufficient instruction because “the Devil is in the details.”

    Why do many denominations preach the 10 Commandments but only selectively the rest of the 613 statements? Didn’t Jesus teach one should obey the Law to obtain “Heaven” or Eternal life?

    Are you a “Noahide?” Why did the Jerusalem instruct Paul to teach the Noahic commandments but not the 10 Commandments?

  • ashpenaz

    Matthew 12: 41The men of Nineveh will stand at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now One greater than Jonah is here. 42The queen of the south will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and now One greater than Solomon is here.

    Jesus is greater than Solomon (the Wisdom books), Moses, (the Law), and Elijah (The Prophets). I need to let go of the Old Testament to be a follower of Jesus.

  • jekylldoc

    I find supercessionism pretty tedious. Who cares if the new is “superior” to the old? There is also a strong track record in rabbinic Judaism of finding newness of vision and freshness of application, all without needing to glorify or denigrate the tradition from which it emerges. It’s really too bad that Christians ever felt the need to establish some higher claim to authority than Judaism already had. It is the same authority, continuing to grow and develop (as any proper authority would).

  • enchess

    So I used to think like this too, but it only superficially addresses Old Testament issue even if correct.

    Why do people make this argument? Chances are because they realize OT can be flatout evil sometimes (ex. Condemnation of gays, love of capital punishment, degrading treatment of women). It’s all well and good you can reason that God doesn’t want us to follow that today, but why did he want people to follow this evil law in the past? If God is unchanging and perfectly good, then he should’ve been perfectly good when he gave OT law. A contradiction if the law creates evil.

    Now, if you think OT is good and just want Jesus to supeecede it because it’s difficult, you still have a problem. A perfect God gave us a perfect law to show us how to live and you have access to it, yet ignore it because Jesus let’s you into heaven without it. The problem isn’t on God anymore, but in this case a lot of validity has been given to arguments attacking progressive Christians.

    I hope this didn’t come off as an attack. I prefer Christians who ignore OT because I find them more loving in general. I just think the view feels not fully formed. If you start ignoring large chunks of scripture you have to start asking why not just ignore all of it.