Christians use the term good news to refer to the gospel. We celebrate the good and life-changing news found in the message of salvation given through Jesus Christ. But good doesn’t equal easy. While Christ’s death purchased our redemption and His resurrection guaranteed our eternal future, we are wrong to think that the Christian life will never encounter difficulty. The heart of the gospel, after all, is that Jesus “suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (v. 12).
Blood atonement (see March 18) and redemptive suffering—this is the source of the salvation and grace that strengthens our hearts (v. 9). The Old Testament sacrifices foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice. On the Day of Atonement, blood would be taken into the Most Holy Place on behalf of the sins of the people. The body of the sacrificial animal, however, would be “burned outside the camp” (outside the community) as unclean (v. 11). We are made clean by the blood of Jesus; His body was tortured and crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Legalism (or continuing to obey only the Law of Moses) is not the right response for us as followers of Jesus (vv. 9–10). Rather, we should “go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (v. 13). This means accepting any suffering and disgrace that comes to us as His disciples, for the sake of eternity (v. 14; see John 15:18–21). We can even rejoice in this privilege (v. 15)! We should also do good as we’re able and share what we have with others (v. 16). Finally, we should submit to our church leaders, so that their ministries won’t be burdensome (v. 17).
>> Do you sometimes fear publicly identifying with Christ? We need to willingly accept any suffering that comes from following Jesus. As the classic hymn says: “Who is on the Lord’s side? . . . Master, wilt Thou keep us, by Thy grace divine, Always on the Lord’s side—Savior, always Thine!” (see Luke 12:8–9).
As we ponder the words of Hebrews chapter 13 today, we thank Jesus for His sacrifice, for making us His disciples, and for the new life He gave us. We ask for strength and courage to share what we have with others.