Hebrews 13: 12 – 13

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

I am reading a book by Bill Johnson titled, When Heaven Invades Earth. In chapter 15 he refers to this verse in the course of his explanation about the unpopular position revival often has in the body of Christ. We know that the church leadership did not welcome Jesus with open arms. In fact, they persecuted him. So, Johnson’s assertion that Jesus was outside the popular group rather than inside does not come as a surprise. Still, I found myself rather taken aback by this scripture and the writer of Hebrew’s position that we, too, must be willing to endure reproach in order to meet Jesus where he is.

Of course, this verse refers specifically to the fact that Jesus was crucified “outside the gates” of Jerusalem. It is symbolic of his entire ministry. He never quite fit in with the established church which is amazing in itself. How could God not fit in with the church? Better question, does God fit in at our churches today? That is a frightening question.

Apparently, in order to fit in with God and with Jesus, sometimes you are going to suffer the reproach, or the criticism, of the church. This is not a comfortable suggestion. I don’t want people figuratively throwing tomatoes at me and I am pretty sure you feel the same way.

We all know that to the world of the unsaved, we are peculiar people. There is no surprise if I tell you that you may be estranged from your more worldly friends or that your unsaved family may shun you. The challenge in today’s scripture is that in order to follow the moves of Jesus, you may find yourself an outcast among your church friends. Following Jesus exacts a price and that may mean that you are an outcast among the saved. Jesus isn’t standing still. He has a big picture revelation he is ushering into the world but it comes in one little small revelation at a time. Jesus said, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now (John 16: 12). This scripture is so big that you just need to see it in some other translations too. Tree of Live version: “I still have much more to tell you, but you cannot handle it just now,” God’s Word translation: “I have a lot more to tell you, but that would be too much for you now,” and finally, the Passion translation: “There is so much more I would like to say to you, but it’s more than you can grasp at this moment.”

You see, Jesus has so much more to show us and tell us. That necessarily means we will have to assimilate new thoughts, new ideas. He wants to and will lead us into all truth but it is more than we can take in at the moment, more than we can absorb at one time. Therefore, he sends bits and pieces and all these are fitting together into his masterpiece. If he showed us the whole painting, it would overwhelm us. Truthfully, the little pieces tend to overwhelm us. In addition, if we truly follow him and accept the revelations he shows us, we will likely be ostracized by the church. Following Jesus tends to foil the traditions of the church. That is why the writer in Hebrews lets us know that if we are sincere about our boast to follow wherever Jesus leads, we should prepare ourselves to be outcasts even amongst our brothers.

This is a bitter pill, I know, but better to be with Jesus, even in the discomfiture of his beliefs than to be cozily ensconced in dead theology and contented church tradition. Remember how Jesus taught about not seeking man’s approval? Well, you get your chance here. As you listen to God in your heart, you are going to discover challenges to your own personal theology. You will also learn new truths in Christ and challenges to our way of doing things. We must be a people willing to follow Jesus wherever he leads and let the chips fall where they may. It ain’t easy, but it is the way!