"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
I picked this verse to discuss today because I feel that it has often been misinterpreted. I am not a Bible scholar, or a theologian, but I think the meaning is simple and clear when you understand it within the context Jesus meant it.
The "Law or the Prophets" that Jesus is speaking about here, is what us Christians consider the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible it is called the Tanakh, which consists of the Torah, which, in one aspect, refers to the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), in which Moses received the Law from God. The Tanakh also consists of the Prophets (such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.) and the Writings (Books such as Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, etc.). I believe Jesus specified the Law and the Prophets for a reason. They both have important implications for Believers.
He is clearly saying that He did not come to abolish or do away with the Old Testament. Remember, Jesus was (and still is) a Jew. He was speaking largely to Jewish audiences. So when he said he did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, they understood him to mean the Hebrew Tanakh, or the Old Testament. He is telling them (and us) that the moral and ethical commands established by God in the Old Testament (in the form of His laws), are not to be discontinued or voided. They still have relevance today! AND He embodies what it means to meet the demands for obedience to God as invoked by the Prophets.
Jesus is speaking directly to this generation of Christians who think that only the New Testament has relevance for us. He wants us to know that He came not so we could ignore the Law OR the Call to Obedience. But He came to complete the purpose of why we were given the Law; and to show us what it looks like to be obedient to the will of God. He came to "fulfill" them, or a better translation is the Hebrew "to make them full", or complete.
What he DIDN'T say is, "You don't need to pay attention to any of those old rules, or listen to the warnings of the Prophets. Your sins are forgiven and that's all you need to be concerned about." What he DID say is, "It's still important for you to follow God's ways as specified in His laws; and I've come to show you what the Prophets were talking about; why it is important to know all that obedience entails."
Finally, to me, this verse tells me that, yes, He is full of the Mercy and Grace of the New Testament. But the lessons of the Old Testament are not to be cast away. There are ethical and moral laws we are to obey; and if they are ignored, then the warnings and judgments given by the Prophets will play a role in our lives. He personifies the fullness of the entire Bible.