Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 30 September 19:
Hebrews 13:10 -16 — We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 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. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The Book of Hebrews ends in chapter 13 with some overall principles of how to live the Christian life and to offer “sacrifices pleasing to God.” (Isaiah 56:7; Hebrews 13:6) The chapter starts with how to treat others – with love, hospitality, empathy, and compassion. (Hebrews 13:1-3) Then, the chapter talks about how we should live personally – with purity, satisfaction and steadfastness. (Hebrews 4:9)
Then Hebrews transitions to how we are live our life in Christ with the most difficult verses to understand in the entire book – Hebrews 13:10-16. These verses refer to the Old Covenant sacrificial system for atonement of sin to proclaim the perfect and ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our eternal atonement and life in Him, a sacrifice outside the old system, a sacrifice that isn’t ritualistically representative but reality, a sacrifice that isn’t brought by us and cannot be fulfilled by earthly priests, a sacrifice not of the blood of animals but rather the blood of Jesus, a sacrifice that not only pays the penalty for our sin but overcomes sin, a sacrifice which lives eternally and provides eternal justification (just as if we have not sinned) and life with God.
“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.” The author of Hebrews exhorts us to leave our old ways of sin and religion based on works, legalism or merit, and live by faith, trusting in salvation through grace, through Christ alone. He encourages us to “go with him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured” reminding us of Jesus’ words — “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) We are called to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ in relationships with others as His ambassadors, ministers and messengers of reconciliation, ‘bearing the reproach he endured’ as sinful people naturally treat us sinfully, continually praying on their behalf, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) As we interact with others in this broken world, we are called to “continually” praise God, acknowledging His Name and doing good works in His Name as new sacrifices, sacrifices of genuine love, which are pleasing to Him. In a world polluted with sin, we don’t place our hope in worldly systems, but we “seek the city that is to come,” we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33),” and we live by the motto “Thy will be done” as we eagerly await Christ’s return and His final restoration. While we await the new creation, the new heavens and earth that will be ushered in by Christ, we live as new creations, proclaiming the kingdom that is at hand but yet to be fully revealed – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 September 19: Today, practice the above principles and proclaim Christ in word and deed.