”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets...." (Matthew 5:17-20)

”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; "I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of thew, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)

Was Jesus a rebel or a fanatic?

With the statement above, Jesus is dispelling questions relating to those who considered him a radical, or heretical.

Yes, Jesus preached against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees. But Jesus was by no means rebelling against the spiritual injunctions set forth by the lineage of prophets before him - including his own teacher, John the Baptist.

Central to Jesus' teachings were Moses’ instructions. Jesus' central tenet, to love God with all our hearts, comes from the teachings of Moses. Jesus' quoted Moses word for word, from Deuteronomy in this teaching:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5)

How were the Prophets' teachings fulfilled?

Yes, Jesus fulfilled the Prophets' teachings because he brought them to life. He taught them and lived them.

Some sectarian institutions propose that Jesus was fulfilling the Prophets' teachings because they were predicting his eventual life and teachings. Yes, some foretold the future of a coming teacher. But the purpose of the Prophets' lives and teachings was not to specifically predict Jesus' life. Their purpose was the same as Jesus - to help others achieve love for God.

To "fulfill" those teachings according to Jesus was to practice them. Jesus was practicing the "laws" (instructions) of the prophets. He was loving God, and He was doing God’s will. This is the essential element of Jesus' life and teachings.

In no way was Jesus trying to deny or reduce the importance of the teachings of the prophets in his teachings. Those of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and others were all supported by Jesus' teachings.

And as evidenced here, Jesus' purpose was to bring those teachings to life: To provide clear and practical applications of the teachings of the prophets to the people of his culture, time, and circumstance.

Such a mission empowered Jesus' life and teachings. Jesus understood the Prophets' teachings to encourage us to love God and serve God.

Why is loving God important?

In the spiritual realm, loving God and God's children is the ultimate focus. And for God, He is loving each of us. This means the spiritual realm is about a loving relationship between God and His children.

This was Jesus' goal: To help us re-establish our loving relationship with God. This was his service to God. This is why, when his disciples were concerned about Jesus not getting enough to eat, he said:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
Jesus was focused on pleasing the Supreme Being - who sent Jesus. This is love.

Love is not just a word - it is a relationship. And loving God is having a relationship with the Supreme Being.

This is what Jesus was trying to teach others. This is evidenced by his most important instruction, which was quoted directly from the prophet Moses:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut. 6:5)