Hebrews 13:1-8 Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Pentecost 15 09/22/19
By Pastor Ken Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
God’s Word assures us of past victory, of present help, and hope for the future in Hebrews 13:1-8
These are your words heavenly Father. Your words give eternal life to all believers! Your Word is truth!
Dear Believers, in Christ,
What is certain in our world? It’s not oil prices or stock markets, or the certainty of the weather. We don’t know how many years we’re going to live or what may happen today. We have the old saying: “The only thing certain in life is death and taxes”. But, Hebrews adds one more thing: Christ offers eternal life in heaven where there will be no surprises and no death or taxes! We can be certain of this because
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
First, of what are we certain from the past? History tells us that we cannot save ourselves. Long before we were born, Adam and Eve sinned and passed their sinful nature to all future generations. That nature in us cannot please God because it lives in rebellion against Him. Rather than conform our lives to God’s ways, like honoring marriage, our old nature wants to misuse sexuality. Rather than trust in God our old nature wants us to trust in money. The result for us is the same trouble as for the Israelites in the Old Testament who lived without God. In Hebrews 3 God warned, “Do not harden your hearts…in rebellion …as in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me…. That is why I was angry with [them], and I said … ‘They shall never enter my rest’” (Hebrews 3:7-11). There is not only death for those in rebellion, but eternal death is certain to anyone if they do not have Christ as their Savior.
So we look to the Christ’s past. As human, He did not inherit a sinful nature. The Holy Spirit created His body within Mary. At the same time He was the eternal Son of God. Because He is one of us, He put Himself under the law as our substitute. He never broke the law. He never committed sexual sins or loved money more than God. He remained holy, so He never should have died.
Yet, He willingly became sin for us, so that through Him we might become the holiness of God. This is what happened when Jesus was hung on a cross God’s law stated, “Cursed is anyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). All the punishment for sin was laid on Him. All the glory that He won was offered to us and all people. We know this is certain because God raised Jesus from the dead. Romans states, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The word justification means that God, as the judge of all, declared us not guilty because Jesus paid the penalty for us. This is more certain than the sun rising in the morning!
Second, of what are we certain for the present? Because of Jesus, our gracious God is present! He calls us to turn from sins that keep us away from His saving grace. Hebrews warns, “God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers. Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (v.5, 6). It must be sinful pride that we hold on to our slavery to sin and carry the burdens of our past sins on own. God set us free from sin! John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This forgiveness is as real as the ground we walk on; for we have God’s own Word that it is true.
Believers in Christ are never alone! Our verses state, “God has said: I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you. So we say with confidence: The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (v.5-6). If you had to fight 10 enemies who were going to hurt you, would you rather be alone or have 100 trained fighters to protect you? Unless you are a superhero like Samson, you would welcome the help! But, even a 100 fighters might not win. You have more: the almighty God, the Maker of heaven of earth. You have God’s Sabbaoth, that is His angel army that He commands, surrounding and protecting you! No one can snatch you, as a believer in Christ, out of God’s hand! So, presently, as bad as our world may seem, we do not need to be afraid. Our gracious God is with us!
How do we thank God? We’ve come to church to honor Him. We give our offerings and volunteer our time to see that the gospel of Christ continues to be heard by more people. We can also do as Hebrews states: “Continue to show brotherly love. Do not fail to show love to strangers, for by doing this some have welcomed angels without realizing it” (v.1, 2). The writer likely had Abraham in mind. The Son of God along with two angels in human form visited Abraham and were fed by him. They in turn blessed Abraham and told him that within a year his 89 year-old wife would have a baby. That blessing happened as they believed God’s promise. Later, when Hebrews was written, many Christians were being harmed. Some were driven from their homes and fled for their lives leaving everything behind. These Christian “strangers” would arrive in towns looking for shelter from believers. Others were arrested for confessing their faith in Christ. Hebrews states, “Remember those in prison, as if you were fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated, as if you yourselves were also suffering” (v.3). And if you suffer unjustly, remember Joseph in Egypt, who we will discuss today in Bible class, and that God has a plan! The believers were to help these people in need. As we see people in need, we remember Jesus’ words: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). We show love for others as Jesus continues to love us and care for us now.
Third, of what are we certain for the future? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (v.8). Jesus rose from death and ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. He promised to come again and take us to be with Him. On Judgment Day, the Lord will command with a shout and raise all the dead. He will send out His angels and gather all true believers to be with Him. The others will be judged and eternally separated from Him because of their unbelief and rejection of His salvation.
But we who believe will be with the Lord forever! Beforehand while we live on earth, there will be physical and spiritual challenges. But, we know that God has promised a future so glorious that, as big as our problems seem now, we’ll need a microscopic to find them then! Paul wrote, “We do not lose heart…. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Christian “hope” does not mean an uncertain thought about the future. Hope means that even though we haven’t seen it, it is just as certain as Jesus’ rising from the death. Peter wrote, “[God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Our world will continue to have uncertainties. Unbelievers are going to be troubled and worried. But we can be confident and tell them the reason that they don’t need to worry: Jesus died and rose to save them in the past. He lives with believers today; and we will be with Him forever in heaven! Amen.