Probably no one would have guessed that a child laborer, working 14 hours a day in a cotton mill, would become a medical doctor, a missionary, an abolitionist, and a fearless explorer! David Livingstone had already explored much of Africa and was about to search for the Nile’s source, when the American journalist Henry Stanley found him and asked a famous question, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” But Livingstone wasn’t just seeking adventure, he was trying to penetrate Africa’s interior for Christ. Grieved by the slave trade, Livingstone sought to overcome it with the gospel and real economic opportunities for Africans. Although he died of illness in a mud hut, Livingstone once said, “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honour, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
Livingstone clearly understood that worship required sacrifice. As in Romans 12 (see Dec. 23), Hebrews 13 shows the link between our worship, our sacrifice, and the Lord’s perfect sacrifice. Today’s passage is part of a discussion in Hebrews on ceremonial foods and animal sacrifices, Old Testament offerings that pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ. Verse 11 refers to the burnt offerings made by the high priest on the annual Day of Atonement for the forgiveness of sins. After the bull was sacrificed, its remains were carried outside the camp of the Israelites. In a parallel way, Jesus was taken outside of Jerusalem to Golgotha, where He was sacrificed.
Dying outside the city added further shame to Christ’s death on the cross. Yet Jesus willingly endured this so we might be made holy (v. 12). Jesus’ death outside the city also showed that Jerusalem had completely rejected Him. In a similar way, Christians must also be willing to suffer the shame of the world’s rejection in order to serve Jesus with a sacrifice of praise. But when we leave the city gate of the world, we actually begin to enter the city that is to come, namely the heavenly Zion (Heb. 12:22).