Author: Ron Graham
In this lesson we complete our topical study in Hebrews, as we look further at the Hebrew writer's final appeal.
As his final appeal, the Hebrew writer exhorts us to make Jesus Christ the center of our lives. He has told us of how Jesus has become our great High Priest, our Perfect Sacrifice, the Mediator and Intercessor between us and God, and the Author and Finisher of our faith. Now in verses 8-19, he reminds us of seven things true of our relationship with Jesus, and these things we should never forget.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, yes and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The Hebrew writer opened his letter by telling us that "in these last days God has spoken to us through his Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2). More than seven hundred thousand days have now passed, and God still speaks to us through his Son, moreover his word has not changed in all that time. We can still go back to the word of Christ and know it is just as true today as ever it was. There will always be "new" doctrines arising, but we should not allow ourselves to be carried away by these.
We not only can rely upon his unchanging word, but on his unchanging grace. Jesus is our representative in heaven, and we have his Holy Spirit of grace to help us here on earth. Our strength is drawn from our focus on heavenly and eternal things, not on rules and regulations about food such as occupied people under the old covenant.
Our connection with Christ and the sanctuary of heaven, makes us different to people of the world, the unbelievers and false believers. Therefore we may suffer reproach and rejection at times. This is the price of following our great Shepherd and Priest Jesus. He suffered reproach and became an outcast for us, so we ourselves must be willing to bear his reproach for a time.
We are encouraged by the certain hope that although we are here on earth for a short time, we have a home in a city in heaven which Christ himself has prepared for us (John 14:1-3). This is an ancient faith. We share it with such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Although only Christ could offer a sacrifice for sins, and the Hebrew writer had made that very clear, there are sacrifices we offer to God by way of giving thanks and praise to him. From the spiritual songs we sing, to the good works that we do, "with such sacrifices God is well pleased". If we think to replace the sacrifice of Christ with our own merit, then of course "all our righteousness is like filthy clothing". (Isaiah 64:6). But when we accept the sacrifice of Christ, and respond with thankful offerings to God of word and deed, God is pleased with these and accepts them for what they are —not demands for merit, but expressions of gratitude and acknowledgements of his grace.
In his good providence, God provides us with guides and teachers who are true to the gospel. When they show and teach us the will of God, we ought to obey, and urge others to do the same. This in turn, full circle, will encourage our teachers in their ministry.
Since those shepherds and teachers have taken on a great responsibility, we should not only encourage them by following the word they teach us, but we should also remember them often in our prayers and ask God’s blessing on the work which they do so conscientiously.
The benediction (word of blessing) and doxology (word of praise) in Hebrews 13:20-21 is very beautiful. It touches on some of the themes of the letter to the Hebrews. It is not only a benediction but a mission statement. The first half expresses God's work for us through Christ. The second half expresses our work for God through Christ.
Now the God of peace who brought up from the dead,
the great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus our Lord,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you in every good thing to do his will,
that he may work in us what is pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
...Grace be with you all.