Hebrews 13:7-16 — Serving the one who never changes

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (8)

This is a famous verse, and one of my favorites. It reminds me that my Lord is unchanging. And that is comforting in a world where people change all the time, and not always for the better. In Jesus, we have someone we can always rely on, someone whose word we can trust, and someone who will always be faithful to us.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews tells us,

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (7)

For the Jesus that transformed them, and who worked in them and through them is the same Jesus that transforms us, working in us and through us. So as we look at our leaders faith and all that God did in their lives, we can be encouraged that if we walk in faith, we too will see God’s work and faithfulness in our lives.

And it’s why the writer of Hebrews tells us also,

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. (9)

In other words, Jesus brought us the message of grace. And because he is unchanging, his message will not change. He will not all of a sudden say, “Hey, you need to eat and avoid certain kinds of food to be right with my Father.”

So we should run from anyone that would bring us teaching that would take us away from the grace of God. We no longer live by law, but by the grace of God. Our goal is no longer to please God to earn our salvation. Rather, because we have already received our salvation through Christ, we seek to please him out of gratitude and our love for him.

The writer of Hebrews then tells us the great privilege we have in Christ. He says,

We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. (10)

What is he talking about? He’s talking about the priests and the sacrifices of atonement they offered for sin. The priests were allowed to eat from some of the sacrifices, but they could not eat from the sacrifices made on the Day of Atonement. Instead the sacrificed animals were completely burned outside of the camp where the Israelites pitched their tents (11).

But at the altar of the cross, we “eat” of the one who is the Bread of Life. That is, in coming to Jesus and putting our trust in his work on the cross, we now have eternal life. So the writer of Hebrews tells us, “We have a right that even the priests of the Old Testament didn’t have. They could not take part of the sacrifices of atonement. In Christ, we can.”

And then the writer of Hebrews goes back to the theme of the unchanging Christ.

And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. (12)

That is, this Jesus in the past offered his life completely to atone for our sins outside of Jerusalem.

Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. (13)

In other words, let us now go to that same Jesus who is waiting for us outside the camp, that is this world. Put another way, let us leave behind all the sin and pleasures of this world, being willing to suffer for doing so, just as Jesus suffered for us.

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (14)

This world is not our true home. Our true home is in heaven, where this same Jesus reigns forever and ever.

And so the writer of Hebrews concludes,

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (16-17)

Each day then, through our words and our deeds, let us glorify this Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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