Have you heard of the song by the band, The Proclaimers, with the chorus, “But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked a thousand miles, to fall down at your door”? Well, one man’s girlfriend took those song lyrics and said, “If you walk 1,000 miles, I’ll walk up the aisle to you!” He didn’t know she was joking, but he did it anyway.
As strange as that story may sound God’s story is stranger. God created the world and made man from the dust of the God. God walked in the garden with the first couple. When given a choice the couple rejected God. Later generations made images of gods after their own liking. While this broke God’s heart, he loved mankind so much that he came into the world as a man and walked in our shoes. He carried the cross and sacrificed himself so that man could walk right with God once again.
To sacrifice is to give up something important or valued for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy. We will readily sacrifice time and treasures for others who have a need. We will sacrifice reputation for something we believe in. We will sacrifice our life for someone we care about who’s in danger.
The biblical idea of sacrifice—slaughtering an animal and sprinkling its blood on the altar—may seem archaic or barbaric. The idea of sacrifice according to the Jewish law was to shed the blood of an animal to forgive the sins of a man. However, no blood of an animal could legitimately forgive the sins of a man. The people knew this. God knew this. It had to be a man sacrificed for a man. A human sacrifice. A man without blemish—no sin in him. Jesus was that man and his blood was sufficient to cover all sin.
Hebrews beautifully shows how all the Old Testament, particularly the practices and symbols, point to Jesus. For example, the tabernacle and temple had an altar on which daily sacrifices were made. The author connects this altar with Jesus’ death and sacrifice (v.10). Sacrifices for sin were to be burned outside the camp. Likewise, Jesus suffered outside the camp on a criminals cross (vs.11-12).
“We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 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. 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. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:10-16, ESV
Just as Jesus had to suffer and endure much, so will Jesus’ followers. As Jesus sacrificed himself for all (7:27; 9:12) so believers are called to offer ongoing praise from their lips and lives to God (vs.15-16; cf. Romans 12:1). He is pleased with these sacrifices.
Walking with God is a sacrifice. We have to sacrifice our ability to walk alone or in our power and wisdom. When walking with God, he does the walking. He went the distance for his Bride. He made the greatest sacrifice. God longs and loves to walk with you. The reward of walking with God is a place in the everlasting city (v.14). And that’s no joke.
Questions for Reflection:
- How did the tabernacle and the articles within point to Jesus? How did the sacrificial system ultimately culminate with Jesus’ sacrifice?
- How did Jesus suffer outside the camp? How do believers suffer “outside the camp” like Jesus? Why would this mean great enduring for the believer?
- What does it look like to praise God with your lips and life? How are you a living sacrifice? What sacrifices do Christians make for the name of Christ?
- How is the promise of an everlasting city a satisfying reward? What is to look forward to in that city?