Our New Testament passage for this week is from Hebrews 13:1-17. Like many other passages in the New Testament we can look for some sort of overall orderly pattern. In this case, the concepts seem to point toward a climax in verses 15-17. Let’s see how it works.
Verse 1 begins a lengthy list of commands. I’ll lay them out in brief.
v. 1 Brotherly love is to continue.
v. 2 Show hospitality.
v. 3 Remember prisoners.
Remember those mistreated.
v. 4 Honor marriage.
v. 5 Be content - Jesus’ promise is that he will not leave us.
v. 6 Related to the contentment issue - have confidence in the Lord’s presence.
v. 7 Remember your leaders.
In verse 8 there seems to be a change of topic. Maybe it’s a justification for the commands we have just seen. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (ESV). Then there’s another command which seems built on the whole idea of Jesus as the present leader.
v. 9 “Do not be led away” (ESV).
The author goes on to remind the reader that a Christian is well provided for by God. He has God’s very presence in Christ with him all the time. At this point the focus shifts to the work of Jesus.
v. 10 We have an altar - the altar of priests before God, standing as mediators between man and God.
v. 11 There’s a comparison between the holy place (the altar) and an unholy place.
In the sacrificial system, the sacrificial bodies are disposed of outside the camp. The blood, presented on the altar, is holy.
How does this all tie together?
v. 12 Jesus suffered outside the camp.
So we then find a conclusion.
v. 13 Therefore, we go to Jesus outside the camp. We bear his reproach.
v. 14 has a justification for all of these actions. “We seek the city that is to come” (ESV).
How does that happen?
v. 15 We give praise to God.
v. 16 We do good and share.
This conclusion brings additional force to the commands in verses 1-7. Those commands are not in any way something we do to earn God’s favor. They are something we do because we are living out the future right now. Jesus has prepared an eternal city which is full of good for His people. The Christian life simply brings those future blessings into this day and time.
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