Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

24 October 2019

Hebrews 13

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.’
So we say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?’
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
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. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Benediction and final greetings
20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
22 Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.
23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.
24 Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.
25 Grace be with you all.

The Hebrews writer ends his letter with an exhortation to counter-cultural living – brotherly love, hospitality to strangers, mercy for prisoners, advocacy for the mistreated, faithfulness in marriage, turning away from materialism, submission to authority. Some may say this sounds like a list of rules that anyone interested in morality would strive for – but the writer, who has traced Israel’s history from the exodus, know better. He knows that man’s sinful nature has fallen short of God’s standard every time, and our only hope is in Jesus, who makes us pure, holy and blameless by his own blood (verse 12), and only through Jesus will we be brought to spiritual maturity and equipped for the life of obedience (verse 20-21). This is the Jesus to whom he has pointed throughout the letter – the one who is infinitely superior to the angels and to the prophets, to Moses and to the priesthood. This is the Jesus who gave his own blood to establish a new covenant with God, one in which the Father would put His laws in our minds and write them on our hearts, so that our hearts would not just be morally restrained by the law, but supernaturally changed by the Spirit.

We know that it’s possible to live the counter-cultural life because Jesus has already lived it, and now our ‘life is hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3). Dear friends, because we are in Christ by faith, let us remember that ‘here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’ (verse 14) and let us live not as those anchored in this world, but as those sent to proclaim the good news of the coming kingdom, and of the King who will reign forever.

Prayer: We pray Heavenly Father, that as we read the scriptures, we may be filled with the knowledge of Your will, and live in a way that is worthy of Your glorious name. Help us to please You through lives of obedience – being fruitful in works of mercy, kindness and love to those whom You have placed in our lives. We pray that we’ll find deep joy and contentment in serving You, and we ask You to help us grow in obedience, not dwelling on the past but pressing on to fulfil the calling you have for each of us. As those who confess Your name, help us also to take care how we live among unbelievers. In all these things, our confidence is not in ourselves but in You, Lord Jesus, the one who is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think. In Your name we pray. Amen