We have not always adequately explained the various ways in which Christ fulfilled each of the Ten Commandments for us. Many theologians have written helpful expositions of the Ten Commandments. Several of them will end by reminding us that we need Jesus’ death to atone for our violations of each commandment. Some of them will leave off with a statement about the fact that Jesus kept the law perfectly. However, almost none them explain the various ways in which Jesus kept each commandment in the place of His people.
So much about the truth of Christ in the Scriptures respects the obedience He rendered to His Father. Though He is God manifest in the flesh, Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life–as the last Adam–in order to merit righteousness for His people. Jesus kept the Ten Commandments perfectly as the representative of those He came into the world to redeem. Whereas, Adam sinned and broke the law of God in the Garden–soon after God had created him–Jesus obeyed God perfectly from infancy to manhood. Jesus never sinned. Jesus was obedient, the Apostle Paul, tells us “all the way to death on the cross” (Phil. 2:8). In fact, the death of Jesus was the culmination of His life of perfect obedience. Jonathan Edwards tied together the spiritual significance of Jesus’ life of obedience and Jesus’ obedience unto the death on the cross, when he wrote,
“We are saved by Christ’s death as much as it was an act of obedience, as it was a propitiation. For as it was not the only act of obedience that merited, so neither was it the only suffering that was propitiatory: all his sufferings from the beginning were propitiatory, as every act of obedience was meritorious. Indeed this was his principal suffering, and it was as much his principal act of obedience. Heb. 5:8, ‘Yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered.’”
The Westminster Larger Catechism also teaches us about Jesus’ representative law-keeping, in answer to the question, “What special use is the moral law to the regenerate?” The catechism states,
“Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned: yet, beside the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead and for their good…”
Nevertheless (as has been noted in recent years) we have not always adequately explained the various ways in which Christ fulfilled each of the Ten Commandments for us. Many theologians have written helpful expositions of the Ten Commandments. Several of them will end by reminding us that we need Jesus’ death to atone for our violations of each commandment. Some of them will leave off with a statement about the fact that Jesus kept the law perfectly. However, almost none them explain the various ways in which Jesus kept each commandment in the place of His people. It will do much spiritual good to our souls to search the record of the Gospels in order to discover the ways in which Jesus kept the moral law of God in our place. Here are a few ways that Jesus perfectly obeyed the law of God throughout His earthly life:
First Commandment: Jesus never put another God before God. He loved the Lord His God with all His heart, mind soul and strength. He went up to the Temple and worshipped every year (Luke 2:41–52). He grew in wisdom and knowledge, and in favor with God and man (2:52). When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, He–as the last Adam–withstood the temptation to bow down and worship the evil one. Jesus was fully commited to only worshiping the Lord (Luke 4:7-8). Jesus perfectly trusted His Father in the Garden and on the cross (Luke 22:42; 23:24, 46).
Second Commandment: Jesus never worshipped God falsely. His zeal to cleanse the Temple was commensurate with God’s command against false worship (John 2:13-22). Jesus warned the Pharisees that the essence of their hypocrisy was drawing near God with their lips but having hearts far from Him. They were, in the words of Isaiah, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:7-9). By way of contrast, Jesus always worshiped His Father according to His word. He never embraced or taught man made doctrines or traditions.