Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13: 7-16
Because Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, is the same, that is, he is unchanging, the same is true of his gospel; “it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”
The book of Hebrews, one of my favorite books in the Bible, is written to Jewish Christians, some of whom are tempted to escape the persecution and ostracization and return to the old covenant way of living. The writer contrasts the better Jesus to the obsolete things of the old covenant. In this section, he is in the wrap up at the end of the book. He reminds them of the folks who brought the gospel to them in the first place and exhorts them to imitate their way of life. Not only did they talk the talk, but they also walked the walk, which in many cases walked them right into martyrdom for Jesus sake. It is fascinating to me that this sentence, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, is dropped in the middle of a paragraph about the teaching of the gospel and living it out. The comment by Kenneth Wuest from his book, Hebrews in the Greek New Testament, is helpful.
The word “Christ” is the transliteration of the Greek word meaning “anointed,” which in turn is the translation of the Hebrew word meaning “Messiah.” That is, the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of Nazareth on the New. And that Person is the Messiah, the unchangeable [sic] One.
Wuest then translates the sentence, “Jesus is Messiah, yesterday and today the same, and forever.”
Now it makes more sense. The Messiah these Jews are considering leaving is the same promised Messiah of the Old Testament. He is the same Jehovah. They can’t leave him and go back to their old religion. Jesus is the fulfillment of their old religion.
The writer then makes the heart settling statement; it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace. These folks were tempted to leave the grace of God and go to a works religion in which their future would be determined by how well they perform their religious duties. No, it is clear that no religious duties can earn one a better place with God. The once for all sacrifice of the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever, is the perfect resolution to our estrangement from God. Nothing I can do can add to that perfect sacrifice. Any works I do to attempt to add to his sacrifice only serve to tarnish an already perfect solution.
This is one of the implications of the unchangeableness of God. Do you see it? Rejoice with me in the glorious unchangeableness of our eternal triune God and his everlasting gospel.