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Nov 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 8, 2020


Intro: Last week we stopped at verse 8,
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever

Rather than treat that statement as belonging to a separate section,
– I see it more as the center point on which the chapter pivots
• retracing our steps through Hebrews, we Jesus at the heart of it
◦ in 2:9 we don’t see our place in world as God intended,
but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor
◦ in 3:1 we are told to consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession
◦ in 4:14 we have a great high priest . . . Jesus the Son of God
◦ in the summary of Hebrews up to chapter 8, we read, Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven . . .
◦ in 12:2 we are looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith
– in light of all this, what does it mean to us that Jesus is the same?
Yesterday: that is, his earthly life, the people he touched, all that he said and did
Today: he is with us “always” (Mt. 28:2) — and especially in worship, prayer, and meditation
Forever: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (Jn. 14:3)
◦ the future he promises to us gives the Christian life its meaning
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14)

Hebrews has taught us to see Jesus as our everything
– if we’re holding onto him, we can let go of everything else

We cannot let ourselves be led away from Jesus
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. Hebrews 13:9

When Jesus delivered his famous “end times message,”
– in which he revealed the signs of his coming and the end of the age
• his very first words were See that no one leads you astray (Mt. 24:4)
◦ he also warned of false prophets who would lead astray, if possible the elect (v. 24)
• widespread deception is a characteristic of the last days
– the teaching that leads astray is depicted in two ways; it is:
diverse – daily we live in a market place of religions and worldviews
strange – perhaps because they are different from what we have been taught
◦ in my experience, some teaching I’ve heard is strange because it’s weird
Hannah Arendt, “A noticeable decrease in common sense in any given community and a noticeable increase in superstition and gullibility are therefore almost infallible signs of alienation from the world.”
◦ “alienated,” because these people lose touch with what their senses are telling them about the world (cf. Heb. 5:14)

The writer points to a contrast between “teachings”–theirs and ours
– it has to do with our hearts — the inner life where faith resides
our teaching: is grace
their teachings: a specific diet strengthens the spiritual life
• writer’s assessment:
◦ our teaching of grace does the heart good, it steadies the heart
◦ their teaching has not benefitted those devoted to it
(the weird teaching does not get us where we want to go,
nor does it help us become what God wants us to be)
– doesn’t God’s grace give you a wonderful sense of relief?!
• grace fills the space between perfection and where we are
• grace is anti-gravity – bad religion is a burden

We do have our own sacred meals
We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10

The tent refers to Israel’s sanctuary in the wilderness
– the altar was sacred and central to Israel’s worship
(that is where all of Israel’s important transactions with God took place)
• in some instances the food grilled on the altar was shared
◦ some food from the altar was for the priests along
◦ the food of some offerings were eaten by the priests and worshipers
• no one else allowed to eat portions of the offering
– our altar is not literal – it is heavenly and it is internal
• Jesus is the priest who ministers at our altar (Heb. 10:20-22)
• he is also the bread of life that nourishes our soul

As long as we’re on the subject of worship . . .
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. Hebrews 13:11-14

When we were in Leviticus, we saw all sorts of rules regarding sacrifices
– specifically, the “sin offering” included rules regarding:
• blood that was taken into sanctuary, sprinkled and applied to incense altar
• and certain body parts that were burned on altar
◦ the remainder of the carcass was taken outside the camp and burned
– the writer has seen parallels between Old Testament sacrifice and Jesus’ death
• he finds another parallel here
◦ those animal sacrifices prefigured Jesus’ death
◦ and like their remains, he was crucified outside Jerusalem
• his blood was not taken into the temple in Jerusalem
. . . when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (Heb. 9:11-12; cf. 9:23-24)

This is where we belong – with Jesus, outside the society that rejected him
– if he goes to a cross, we go with him
• if he is reproached (insulted, disgraced), so are we
If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mt. 16:24)
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household (Mt. 10:24-25)
• for us, this is doable – why?
◦ because we are not permanent residents in this world
For here we have no lasting city
– we do have a city, we just haven’t reached it yet!
• some of us have lost sight of that city
◦ I have to admit, it has slipped from my mind a few times
◦ this can be a difficult discipline – to stay focused
• last week’s election and ongoing issues provide a perfect illustration
◦ some of us been clinging too tightly to the outcome
IF it didn’t go way you wanted, it’s not the end of the world
IF it went as you hoped, it doesn’t mean utopia or salvation
IF you’re disappointed, let go of this world–it’s not your home
IF you’re pleased, let go of this world and rejoice your name is written in heaven

We belong to God, and he has given us a specific work to do
– we need to stay focused and get back to it

The sacrifices of Christian worship
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. Hebrews 13:15-17

Even in Israel’s worship, not all sacrifices were for sin
– some were expressions of gratitude
• others celebrated Israel’s participation in life with God

For us, every interaction we have with God is through Jesus
Geoffrey Wainwright, “The most characteristic function of Christ in Christian worship, then, is understood to be mediation: he mediates human worship to God, and he mediates salvation from God to humanity.”
– our sacrifices are “spiritual” in nature
• the spiritual aspect of sacrifice was recognized even in the Old Testament
◦ the prophet Samuel, to obey is better than sacrifice
◦ the Psalms
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burn offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise
(Ps. 51:15-17)
◦ the Prophets
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burn offerings
(Hos. 6:6)
• praise is one form of spiritual sacrifice
fruit of lips – sacrificial offerings were the fruits of human labor
acknowledge his name – his person; for all that he does and gives
– another form of spiritual sacrifice:
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have
• God smiles when we care for others — it is pleasing to God
◦ we think of it as “charity,” but to God it is worship
• Jesus was always traveling on the margins of society
◦ the poor, the disabled, sinners, foreigners
◦ all those lived and suffered “outside the camp”
Geoffrey Wainwright, “. . . openness to God is the condition for being transformed by him into his likeness in and through worship.”

Conclusion: Here are the words I recommend for meditation this week

Let us go to him
– and keep going to Jesus–with everything
• with our anxiety, disappointment, anger, sin, relationships, work, etc.
– in verse 9, “devoted” translates the Greek word for “walk”
• for several years, psychologists have been researching the way our mental and emotional state affects the biomechanics of our bodies
Pat Ogden explains, “The way we walk speaks volumes about who we are and how we feel.”
• for instance,
“We may plod along, dragging our feet behind us as if we have very little energy, giving the impression that we are tired or depressed. We may walk with a hurried, rushed gait, leaning forward, eyes focused straight ahead, giving the impression that we are preoccupied, busy, harried, and have no time to spare. . . . We may stomp our feet with every step if we feel angry or bounce with a spring in our step if we feel joyful. Our gait changes with our mood, but our characteristic style of walking, like all our physical habits, is formed over time from a variety of influences.”
◦ here is the point I want to emphasize:
“Our gait changes depending on how we feel, the environment, and who we are with.”

We are walking with Jesus (Col. 2:6; 1 Jn. 1:6)
Practice walking with Jesus and notice
what happens to your stride?
your pace?
the movements of your feet, legs, and arms?
your mood?
But especially, where do you go?
Whom do you meet?
And what happens next?

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