Have you had a prescription filled lately? How about a restaurant order? Fulfilled a dream, an expectation, a commitment? Then maybe the word fulfilled seems familiar to you.
Because it’s this word that seemed to jump off the page while I read through the gospel of Matthew. He certainly had it on his mind. I clocked fulfilled as showing up almost 20 times.
It begins in the very first chapter with Jesus’ birth announcement:
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet” (Matt 1:23 emphasis added).
Then it weaves tirelessly through chapter after chapter of Jesus’ earthly ministry:
“…He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” (Matt 8:16-17 emphasis added).
And one of my favorite passages comes at Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. For me, it encapsulates the melancholy resolution with which He faced that horribly necessary hour:
“Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say is must happen in this way?” (Matt 26:53-54 emphasis added).
So, what was Matthew’s point? Why beat this word like a drum, keeping time as we wander the hills of Judea and the shoreline of Galilee?
Well, Matthew serves as a powerful gatekeeper between the Old Testament and the New. He reaches back to the centuries of prophecy preceding him and shows how they come to fruition in the Lord Jesus.
Now, as a Gentile of the 21st century I may lose sight of how important this is. But a Jew of the 1st century was highly conscious of the need to fulfill Scripture. This would have been a litmus test for authenticity of the Messiah.
And, pass the test He did! So, we can rejoice with the same confidence and fervor of those first believers:
“This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
‘Say to the daughter of Zion,
See, your king comes to you…
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
(Matthew 21:4,5,9 emphasis added).