Jesus Is. . .!

Jesus Is . . .
Hebrews 13:1-6
November 5, 2017

Have you ever been in a situation where you wonder ‘what’s the right thing to do in this situation?’ You wonder about it, but most of the time we know what the right thing to do is . . . don’t we? We generally balk at doing it, because doing the right thing is often not the popular thing and is generally more difficult than doing nothing.

Think about a kid in your school who is getting bullied by that popular person. It happens in front of other students and even in front of teachers who do nothing about it. It aggravates you and you know the person being bullied feels horrible. But what do you do? Most everyone in class is laughing. What’s the right thing to do? You know what it is, but it’s not always easy to do. Because that is not the popular or even the Politically Correct thing to do.

This may also be true in the workplace . . . where there may even be more at risk . . . like your job or career or the promotion you wanted.

We can go down this track for so many other areas in life. And in a few minutes we will.

We are back to looking at the book of Hebrews. We’ve hit the home stretch, as we only have 2 more Sundays after today to look at this great book of the Bible. As we consider who Jesus is and who He is calling us to be, we’re going to look at the first 6 verses of Hebrews 13. Let’s see what the writer is calling for us to do and not to do, as we seek to become more like Jesus. He wrote ~

1 Let brotherly love continue.

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:1-6

For a moment I want to start with the last part of verse 5, move into verse 6 and then back track to the first verses in this passage, then end up right back here in the end. The writer is leading us to a place where we can state with confidence . . . The Lord is my helper, I will not fear, for what can any person do to me?

That’s a great statement of confidence, which can only be made because of their faith in Christ, and for the proclamation made at the end of verse 5, when the writer states this about God ~
5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

If we were to be really honest . . . we might have to admit there have been times when we’ve really wondered, we’ve questioned if this is really true! Sometimes situations and circumstances in life have led us to question . . .

GOD ARE YOU REALLY NOT GOING TO LEAVE ME? You’re really not going to forsake me? Because the way my life is going right now, it sure doesn’t feel like you’re there!!

Have you ever felt that way? I have! I’ve doubted, I’ve questioned, I’ve asked. It’s not a sin to do that. It’s actually part of our journey to growing deeper in Christ. Yet, we hear that statement, God will not fail us, He will not forsake us, He will ever abandon us! I’ve said it often. I believe it! But sometimes life bites us and we hurt and we question in the midst of that hurt. It’s normal, it’s natural, it’s OK to question. We just can’t get stuck there. That’s the key!!

God has promised all followers of Christ – – that He Will do what?

He will Never leave you … and … He Will Never forsake you.

God stated this promise to the nation of Israel in Moses final message to the people, in Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8, Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid, be courageous, God will not leave you or forsake you.’

As Joshua was about to lead the people into the promised land, God spoke these words to Joshua – – reminding him 3 times to be strong and courageous and that God would never leave him or forsake him.

Finally, God commanded Joshua ~ 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

That is a great promise and it’s the same promise God makes to you and I. God’s people were repeatedly assured – that God would not leave them.

And Now, God reminds us, promises us – – He will never leave you, nor forsake you! This doesn’t mean life will be easy, it means God will be with you through the good and the not so good.

Bad things will happen . . . but we are to take heart, to be filled with great courage in the midst of our storms because – – – God will never leave us or forsake us.

Now, to help you believe in what I’m telling you, I want to give you the literal Greek translation of this passage. Because as good as our translations are, we’ve made this verse too easy to read.

This passage which says, I will not leave you or forsake you – – but the actual literal translation is more emphatic about what God will do for us. Literally it should read this way ~

He Himself has said never not you will I leave nor never not you will I forsake.

In the Greek language, as well as in English, the more negatives there are in a sentence . . . the more emphatic that statement is. The writer wants us to really believe God is not going to leave us. He’s not going to forsake us. He’s not going to abandon and He’s not going to desert us.

So, with that in mind, hold onto these great words from Hebrews, and now let’s take a quick look at the first verses of Hebrews 13. We are told to

1 Let brotherly love continue.

There is an inference the writer is making in this verse. He is telling us we need to continue to love one another. In other words, you’ve already been doing it. You’ve already been loving one another. Keep doing it. Don’t stop loving one another. Let the world see the power of Christian fellowship and love. Let them see how we care about one another, not how we beat one another up.

Sometimes we have a distorted view of how we love one another. Because often times we love only those we want to love. Ever been there! “Oh, I don’t like him or her, so, I’m not going to help them.” Even Christ followers do that! We don’t always love one another. Sometimes we may be grumpy, distracted, to self-centered. Whatever the excuse, they are all excuses.

Do we see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. As people we want to help, or people we want to be critical of? Do we love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ? And the call to love one another is predicated on the fact that God will never, never leave you nor forsake you. So, look at one another and find a reason to love them, after all, they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Next we are told something really interesting . . .
2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hebrews 13:2

We tend to think of hospitality as inviting someone over for supper. But, this verse in reality continues the theme of loving others. Showing hospitality to strangers. This includes at church, help that person you don’t know to feel welcomed. I spoke about that last week. Be welcoming. Amazingly hospitality is a spiritual gift. Not all have it. The goal in being hospitable is to be welcoming. It’s to help someone feel welcome in your presence.

We should be doing that at church, at work, at school. Wherever we go, do we demonstrate Christ’s presence in our lives? It’s about showing kindness, compassion, patience to others. It’s offering an encouraging word.

It may mean we need to help someone in a different way. Maybe it’s giving someone food, or clothes, or money. Maybe it’s serving more. You never know who that stranger is who you encounter. Yet, in the world we live in, we need to have common sense and be safe at the same time. We never know the difference we can make in a person’s life because we befriended them with kindness and compassion. That’s the deeper point of this verse.

We continue with the theme of compassion ~
3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

The writer continues to tell us to practice compassion. He is referring to those who are in prison because of their faith in Christ. We don’t live in that type of world yet! Our nation is becoming less and less Christian. We have lost the moral boundaries and ethos from years ago. The 10 commandments are no longer relevant. We follow our own code of morality. We have greatly fallen from whom we are called to be as Christ followers. That’s true of the church, as well as the rest of our nation. But that’s for another day!

Some were in prison because of their faith, some because of their debt, because many Christians were poor. Many of the Jewish believers were persecuted because of their new faith in Christ as the Messiah. They were ostracized, persecuted and this often impacted them financially . . . and because of their debt, they were imprisoned or beaten.

The writer is telling us ~ “Imagine yourself in the position of those who are suffering.” Not only are we to show compassion, but we add empathy. It means “understanding and entering into another person’s feelings.” When you practice empathy, you can’t help but practice compassion.

Put yourself in the place of others. Whether at work, home, school – – wherever you are. Consider those who are bullied, those who seem to be loved less than, those who seem to be all alone and consider how you might feel and how you would want God to deal with you.

Most of the time our world doesn’t see the Christian as a compassionate person. They see us as judgmental and condescending. They see us as holier-than-thou. They see as a members of a private and exclusive club. But the way the world needs to see us is as a people of compassion. And that can only happen when we make it a habit to practice compassion.

Next, the writer moves onto the topic of being content. In verse 4, he tells us ~
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

This was a radical thing to say back in the first century. To honor your marriage and not commit adultery definitely made your faith show back then. When Pliny, the governor of Bithynia reported to the Roman Emperor Trajan – – he spoke about the fact that ‘these Christians meet before dawn and swear to never break the laws again and they bound themselves by an oath, to avoid theft or ADULTERY, never to break their word…” Pliny was confused by their behavior and stubbornness and asked what to do. Trajan told him, ‘being known as a “Christian” was sufficient for capital punishment.’

We are to honor our marriages and be faithful. Do we honor our spouses? Do we show respect, value and cherish our spouse? Do we treat one another with kindness, humility, and grace? Do our actions loudly proclaim – – “I love you!”

Because of the way people lived in that day, we are reminded we need to find contentment in our marriage. We are not to commit sexual immorality or adultery. God says He will punish those who are sexually immoral and adulterers. You don’t seek extra-marital affairs, you don’t say, oops, it just happened.

It’s finding contentment and joy, along with power, strength and compassion in your marriage.

Finally, the writer starts out verse 5 by telling us ~
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have

Understand that money, in and of itself is not bad. It’s actually a good, if not great thing!! Money isn’t bad! But the love of money can be tremendously destructive. We end up trying to accumulate as much as we can. We want more and more and more. We’re never satisfied with what we have. Someone else has more, so we want more.

The world doesn’t understand what a Christ followers contentment and peace is about. They see it, and they want it, but that is not tangible. The world sees what you wear, they see your car, your home, your electronics and toys. That’s how they judge you.

So, we focus on those things which will spoil, fade and perish. We should work hard to get ahead. We should save money. But we should not hoard our money. We should not

But, the love of money is what leads to our sinfulness. So, we keep our money hidden. We refuse to give it away to help others who are in need, which is compassion, because we are not content. We base our lives on the external things which really don’t matter in the long run.

So, we don’t give to charities, we don’t give money to the church, so the church can give money to those in need and to missionaries. Yet, we spend on things which we really don’t need because it gives us a quick fix. We look at our shiny new toy and feel good about ourselves, then someone else gets a newer and better one . . . and that good feeling fades away. So, the writer reminds us to be content.

Few of us would consider bowing down to an idol, but, with money, we quickly bow down. Remember, our money and possessions are a gift from God. And these can certainly become our gods.

So, with all that in mind, the writer leads us to our conclusion, which is exactly where we started. We are to be people who are filled with compassion and contentment. We can do that because we have this amazing promise from God ~
5 . . . never not you will I leave nor never not you will I forsake.

God’s promise is very clear – – – He will never, never leave you AND He will never, never forsake you!! So does that mean God has never forsaken anyone who belonged to Him? Anyone who believed in Him, trusted in Him, loved Him?

Actually, that answer is YES! There was a person who was forsaken by God.

We are told in the Scriptures that The crowds mocked Jesus while He was on the cross.

Matthew tells us ~ 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

Jesus was quoting the first words of Psalm 22. In this unique and strange miracle, Jesus was crying out in anguish because of the separation He now experienced from His Heavenly Father.

It was the first time He felt separated from His Father. This is the only time Jesus did not address God – – as the Father.

Why? Because the Son had taken sin upon Himself, and the Father could not be part of that and had to turn away from Him. For a time, between about 3 pm to 6 pm, there was separation between the Son and the Father.

The sin of the world, your sins and mine, the sins of humanity were thrust upon Jesus during this time. The words of Paul state it well in 2 Corinthians 5 ~
21 For our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Our sinfulness entering His beaten body. Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world, and for that, the holy and pure heavenly Father had to judge Jesus – – – fully.

Jesus – – – forsaken by the Father, becoming sin on our behalf – – and to use His words from Matthew 20:28, He came into this world to give His life as a ransom for many – Matthew 20:28.

Jesus was forsaken so that God might never, never, never, never – leave you or forsake you.

And because of that ~
6 We can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:1-6

Comment(1)

  1. Reply
    Robyn Carpenter says

    I don’t believe I have ever read or remember there being separation from the father, God! I have always known God would never leave me or forsake me. Matthew 27:46 I have reread several times after this sermon. I’m touched by Jesus’ strength and courage to take on all our sins but I never knew or realized during 3hrs of his life his father had forsaken him. My love for Jesus is strong and more meaningful after this insight.
    Thank you Pastor Michael for a great sermon full of great information that I have learned today! Bless you.

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