HEBREWS 13:1-25 (NIV – UK)
1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 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.
4 Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 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.’ [Deut. 31:6]
6 So we say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?’ [Psalm 118:6-7]
7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
9 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.
YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER
As this letter to the Hebrews is drawn to a close a marvellous truth is proclaimed to us:
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (v. 8).
It a beautifully simple statement with such rich and wonderful consequences! Jesus, from eternity past, has always been: Son of God, Saviour, Mediator, Faithful, True and so many more things. His promises you can take to the bank. He didn’t just decide to be Saviour one day and tomorrow he’ll decide not to be – he always has been, is and always will be!
And the context of why this is said is important. It is said in relation to verse 9: ‘Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings’. Since the very beginning there have been those who have taught counter to the Apostles’ teaching and many of them have been condemned as heretics throughout the ages.
The warning for us, though, is to be able to spot false teachings about Jesus when they present themselves. It is important for us to remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever – nothing is new – Jesus has revealed himself to us already – so any new teaching about Jesus – perhaps something disguised as ‘progressive thinking’ – should set alarm bells ringing!
The truth we find here about Jesus is that he is as solid and sure as a rock – and when we cling to him we are on solid ground.
Question: How does it make you feel to know that Jesus is eternally the same? How can you make sure you aren’t tricked by ‘strange teachings’?