DUNCAN/Let us go to Jesus
Please turn to Hebrews 13:8-14. This whole chapter is filled with exhortations about living the Christian life. However, all of these exhortations that he is giving in this chapter, as Biblical as they are and as practical as they are, will avail nothing in the Christian life if our faith and hope are not ultimately placed in Jesus. Unless we are looking to Him, none of these exhortations can happen. So the message of this whole section from verses 8-14 is "Go to Jesus." Specifically, the author of Hebrews tells us five important truths in relation to that message. First, in verse 8, he makes a declaration about who Jesus is. Second, in verse 9, he gives us an application of that declaration. Third, in verses 10-11, he explains how atonement works and how Jesus' atonement factors into the Christian life. Fourth, in verse 12, he gives us a proclamation about the effective work of Jesus' atonement. Fifth and finally, in verses 13-14, he gives us an exhortation to go to Jesus and to seek the city that is to come.
I. Jesus is Eternally Reliable.
First, in verse 8, the author of Hebrews tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." In other words, the author of Hebrews is saying, "Jesus will never ever change from being the faithful, dependable Savior that He has always been, that He is today, and that He always will be. Everything else in your life is changeable, sometimes not for the better, but He will never change. You will always be able to depend upon Him." If there is in your life a problem that seems bigger than Jesus or if there is a desire in your heart that is greater than Jesus, then you are in a dangerous place because the whole point of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus is better. Jesus is bigger than any problem that you are facing, and He is better than any desire that you have in this life no matter how good or holy that desire is. That truth is so important because the author of Hebrews makes it very clear that Jesus is the key to our living the Christian life.
II. Jesus is All We Need.
Secondly, in verse 9, the author of Hebrews says, "Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace." He is telling us that Jesus Christ and the grace that He alone supplies are exactly what we need to live the Christian life. In other words, he is saying what we need is what Jesus supplies, not what false teachers supply. Even in the early church, in the shadow of the apostles, there were multiple false teachings. In relation, Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:3-4 that false teaching leads only to vain speculations. False teaching cannot lead you to maturity in the Christian life; only truth can. At the end of verse 9, the author also makes a comment about foods when he says, "not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them." This comment brings up the picture of the old ceremonial ritual system where there were foods that you could eat and that you could not eat. Thus, the author of Hebrews is reminding us that part of the way that the Lord kept His people holy is that God kept His people from being able to eat with idolaters by prescribing them a different diet. That was one of the ways that He separated them from the nations.
III. Jesus Makes Atonement.
Thirdly, in verse 10, he says, "We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat." In other words, he is saying, "Brothers and sisters, you are a kingdom of priests, and just like they got to eat from the Old Testament sacrificial altar in the tabernacle and temple, you, as a kingdom of priests, have an altar from which you derive food that nourishes you." So in verse 11, he says, "For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice of sin, are burned outside the camp." Moses addresses the scapegoat and the offering of atonement in Leviticus chapter 16. The picture is God dealing with His people's sins by riddance and by propitiation. That is, the scapegoat shows that the people's sins meant that they deserved to be removed from God's presence. The atonement offering is a picture that God deals with sin by meting out the punishment that it deserves. Thus, the author of Hebrews is saying that Jesus fulfills what is set forth in that atonement ritual in Leviticus 16 in His own death.
IV. Jesus Experienced Ultimate Separation.
Fourthly, in verse 12, the author of Hebrews says, "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood." The author of Hebrews is telling us that Jesus is the scapegoat because He suffers outside the camp. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice because He sheds His own blood for the people. And he is telling us that Jesus is our altar. He is the one who supplies us what we need for our sustenance. By His person and His atoning work, He supplies to you the grace that you need to be nourished. Just as the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness, Jesus is crucified not in the temple but outside the gates where the criminals were punished. The picture is a picture of separation from God and separation from His people. Jesus experienced the loneliness and the abandonment and the dereliction of the sin bearer outside the camp. Jesus died on the cross and He was raised again, and in doing that, He bore the penalty in His body that was due our sins. And the author of Hebrews is saying, "The key to living the Christian life is understanding who Jesus is and what He has done for you."
V. Go to Jesus.
Finally, in verses 13-14, the author of Hebrews says, "Therefore let us go to him, outside the camp, and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city but we seek the city that is to come." When the world says, "Who is it going to be? Us or Him?" Go to Jesus. He bore your reproach. Be willing, in gratitude for His grace to you, to bear a little of His reproach. The author of Hebrews is actually telling us how to fight the battle against worldliness in these verses. By His grace and through faith, go to Jesus and remember who He is and what He has done for you and use it to fight the battles of the heart that have to be fought to live the Christian life.