There is a lot of symbolism in today’s reading I probably missed the first couple times I read through this text. For some of us, understanding Jewish tradition is not something we have spent a lot of time doing. I wonder when Christians stopped observing Jewish traditions? Granted, not all early Christians were Jewish, but a lot of them were. The book of Hebrews has been written to them to help them in coming to grips with their new belief. How can you juggle two different traditions? I’m sure this book/letter was very helpful to them.
Many more Jews thought these “Christians” were crazy to believe Jesus was the Messiah. I am sure the new believers took quite a beating (maybe even literally) for this. Even today, there are traditional Jews who are upset with those who call themselves Jews yet believe Jesus is the Messiah. Yet many others don’t even know what a Messianic Jew is (one who believes Jesus is God’s son). And of ones I’ve seen randomly asked, they don’t really care what other people think. The Jewish religion historically has not been a missionary movement. By contrast, as Christians, we are called to tell the world about Jesus and his love.
But for the Jews of the day, and for us, we know we do take a hit for our beliefs. Being “outside the camp” would mean you were unclean and not welcome inside the camp, lest you bring your filth and disease with you. We do have filth, called sin, inside us. None of us are without it. God gave us minds to think, and unfortunately, some of those thoughts are not pure and holy. Some of our actions are not in line with God’s will for us either. We often hate, gossip, lie, judge, even with the best of intentions. We are outside the gate.
Jesus suffered and died outside the gates. He took those sins of ours and they were nailed to the cross with him. His mercy and grace are a means by which we are saved and free. Do we choose to accept that forgiveness? Do we want to walk with Jesus into eternity? Do our lives reflect our joy of salvation?
Spending time with Jesus every day is so important. It keeps us grounded and in tune with his plan for us. We don’t want to let the voices in our head and those of the world distract us from the real thing. Jesus is the real thing, and he promises us so much more. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Just the thought of that should elicit an emotion within you? Isn’t there just a bit of thrill coursing through your veins? An eternal home with Jesus. Ahhh.
There is nothing the world can shove in our face that can change what Jesus did for us. Nothing. He suffered pain, humiliation, agony, despair, and grief at our expense. What is our response to that? Can we just turn our backs and ignore him? I choose not to. I want that joy in my heart. I want others to spend eternity with Jesus and me, too. How do I need to change my words and deeds to make this happen?
Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you that you have my life securely in your hands. Sometimes I feel like I’m lost but then I spend time with you and my joy is restored. Each day you give me is a gift. Help me to treat it that way and bring you a heart of thanksgiving. Work through me this day to bring others to a place of realizing they are outside the gate and only you can bring them back. In Jesus’ name. Amen.