“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.” Hebrews 13:12-13
For the Jewish man or woman who received Christ as their Messiah, believing would be unpopular and isolating. For the Pharisee or High Priest of Jesus’ day, embracing Him to step into the New Covenant would be unpopular and isolating. For the man or woman who lives today in places hostile to the Gospel, acknowledging Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life is equally unpopular and isolating, even life threatening.
The death of Jesus happened outside the camp of anything having to do with Judaism. It was not in the city center of Jerusalem; nor was it in the confines of any temple. The message for anyone then, or now, is clear. Salvation is about Jesus alone. It is stepping outside any religious boxes to encounter Him, face to face, at the foot of the cross.
We have grown up in a time when has been easy in the United States to trust Christ. Within the camp of an evangelistic crusade, someone walks forward as ‘one of many’. People receive and congratulate them at the front. How many might go forward for the joy of being affirmed? Some, indeed. And in the comfort of the church which can be ingrown, we live and enjoy its community without an awareness that we have embraced Christ at risk of public shame and humiliation. Jesus went outside the city – bearing his reproach. To become His disciple, I must also forfeit the expectation of applause and comfort and step outside my city gates. Out into the open. Out into the open wilderness where watching eyes that are not always friendly can see me declare my allegiance.
For everyone who has come to Jesus and left religion, family, and friends to do so, Jesus has received you outside the camp. Your reproach, He understands. The danger, He has faced. The abandonment of close friends, He sustained. But, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 This is the pathway for passing from death to live. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me.” Psalm 23
Oh Jesus, the joy of inclusion into Your Kingdom and into Your arms, eclipses whatever I have had, or will be called to sacrifice. Amen