Friends, in our Gospel today, Jesus declares that he would not undermine the law and the prophets but fulfill them. Jesus himself was an observant Jew, and the themes and images of the Holy Scriptures were elemental for him.
But what is he going to fulfill? Protestant theologian N.T. Wright has pointed out that the Old Testament is essentially an unfinished symphony, a drama without a climax. It is the articulation of a hope, a dream, a longing—but without a realization of that hope, without a satisfaction of that longing.
Israel knew itself to be the people with the definite mission to become holy and thereby to render the world holy. But instead, Israel fell into greater and greater sins, and instead of being the catalyst for the conversion of the world, the world was continually overwhelming and enslaving Israel.
And then came Jesus, who turned out to be, in the most unexpected way, the fulfillment of the dream. From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus effected the gathering of the tribes of Israel through conversion and the forgiveness of sins.