"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." Hebrews 13:11-13
The book of Hebrews appears to be a series of sermons/teachings that exhorts early Jewish Christians not to fall away from the faith. The consistent message is, "Jesus is better than anything else." In the midst of these exhortations to remain steadfast, can we learn anything about missions? As always, the answer is yes (to read the first post in this series, click here).
Some NT books tell us much about how to do missions work. Hebrews is not one of them. However, this epistle does give us much helpful information as to the content of what we should be sharing. In the face of this world's pleasures, the author of Hebrews informs us that Jesus is better than anything else, including all the world has to offer. That is the big picture of this book.
It is always a challenge to select a "most important" passage for missions in any book of the bible. I admit that in some ways it is artificial. Therefore, I'll just say that Hebrews 13:11-13 is very important for a full presentation of the gospel. This passage is a reminder that Jesus is worth suffering for.
These verses at first point back to the sacrificial system of the OT. The bodies of the animals used for the sin offering on the Day of Atonement were burned outside the camp. They were completely rejected, not to be consumed by the priests. Like the rejected animal bodies, Jesus (our atonement) was rejected outside the camp. He was crucified outside the city walls at Calvary.
Verse 13 is the tipping point. All believers are called upon to go to Jesus outside the gate. This is speaking of rejecting the pleasures and comforts of this world in favor of Christ. This decision will have consequences that usually include suffering.
One problem with much witnessing, at least in the Western world, is that the gospel presentation does not include a counting of the cost. We must forthrightly tell non-believers that a life with Christ may very well be a life of suffering. Despite this, it is a much better life. Only when they understand that following Christ goes hand-in-hand with suffering do they have a full understanding of the gospel.
Let's be faithful in sharing that the Christian life takes place outside the gate with Jesus.
To read any or all posts in this series, please click here.