Disgrace (Part Two)

Read part one here: https://thevoiceofone.org/2022/04/14/disgrace-part-one/

Just before talking about going to Jesus outside the camp, the writer says, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat” (Heb. 13:10).  Joining Jesus outside the camp is joining in the suffering of the cross.  This is the altar the writer means.

There is further encouragement in this.  Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51).  When we join Jesus in the suffering of the cross, we eat the bread of eternal life.  Those that rejected Christ excluded themselves from the only altar that mattered.  The writer is reminding his audience about what they’ve gained.  They might have lost their family and community; they might have lost religious standing and approval; they might have lost the altar of the Jewish temple/tabernacle.  But they have gained eternal life through the altar of the cross.

In the midst of feeling shut out from our religious community, it can be hard to remember what we gain by fellowshipping with Christ.  Even acknowledging what we gain doesn’t take away the immense pain we might feel.  But in the midst of pain, Christ within nourishes, encourages, and keeps us going.  It is sustenance only served at the altar of the cross, outside the camp; it is only available to those that join Him there.

One practical result of going to Jesus outside the camp is a heart for others outside the camp. This is what Hebrews 13 begins with: a call to show hospitality to strangers (outside the camp of family), to remember those in prison (outside the camp of lawful society), to let brotherly love continue. As Jesus said, we cannot only love those (in our camp) who love us or we have done nothing more than others, nothing divine (Matt. 5:46).  Loving those outside our camp makes us complete, sons like our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:48).

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