Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Hebrews 13:12
Friday was market day in the rural town in Ghana where I grew up. After all these years, I still recall one particular vendor. Her fingers and toes eroded by Hansen’s disease (leprosy), she would crouch on her mat and scoop her produce with a hollowed-out gourd. Some avoided her. My mother made it a point to buy from her regularly. I saw her only on market days. Then she would disappear outside the town.
In the time of the ancient Israelites, diseases like leprosy meant living “outside the camp.” It was a forlorn existence. Israelite law said of such people, “They must live alone” (Leviticus 13:46). Outside the camp was also where the carcasses of the sacrificial bulls were burned (4:12). Outside the camp was not where you wanted to be.
This harsh reality breathes life into the statement about Jesus in Hebrews 13: “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (v. 13). Jesus was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem, a significant point when we study the Hebrew sacrificial system.
We want to be popular, to be honored, to live comfortable lives. But God calls us to go “outside the camp”—where the disgrace is. That’s where we’ll find the vendor with Hansen’s disease. That’s where we’ll find people the world has rejected. That’s where we’ll find Jesus.
How do you initially react to outsiders and misfits? In what practical way might you go to Jesus “outside the camp”?
Thank You, Jesus, that You don’t show any favoritism. Thank You for going outside the camp for me.
The audience for the New Testament letter to the Hebrews consisted of the Diaspora—Jewish Christ-followers who’d been scattered due to persecution. The nature of the audience perhaps explains the heavy emphasis on Israel’s history and the sacrificial system of Judaism, which forms a point of reference for the work of Jesus. The content of the letter is clearly Christ-centered, lifting Jesus up as superior to angels, priests, and Moses, and affirming Christ’s redemptive sacrifice as superior to the sacrificial system of Israel’s temple. Hebrews is also shrouded in mystery, due largely to the fact that this letter is anonymous. The human authorship of Hebrews has long been the subject of both scholarly and devotional examination, with much ink being spilled arguing for a particular author. The individuals named as potential authors range from Paul to Apollos to Barnabas to Luke to Priscilla and more.