Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 16 2013 - Hebrews 13:1-25 – Concluding words of encouragement

There is so much that can be said from the verses we have read this morning. They begin with an exhortation to love one another. Christians should show the world that they do not follow a historical figure but a living and present Lord. Something of his life should shine through our lives, particularly in the way we treat one another. The love of God in Christ is to be made visible in us and through us.

And that love is to be shown not only to those whom we know – to our friends. "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,” we are told, “for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2). We probably do not often show hospitality to strangers, though some may be involved in soup runs or meals for the homeless. I'm sure that it's never crossed our minds that in showing such hospitality we might be ministering to angels. Nevertheless, our author reminds us that such things have happened – thinking probably of Abraham providing a meal for the three visitors in Genesis 18 or even Lot providing lodgings for the two who went on to Sodom (Genesis 19). The same may not be likely to happen to you or to me, but we may act as 'angels', messengers and servants of God to those in need.

Further exhortations follow, urging us to live in ways shaped by the call of the gospel and not by the patterns of this world: be faithful in marriage; don’t let the pursuit of money take over your life but be content with what you have. In all things remember that the Lord Jesus is with you and will never forsake you. He is the same yesterday and today and for ever. You need not be afraid. Remember these things.

But we cannot leave our readings in Hebrews without a few words on the wonderful doxology with which it almost closes; "Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (13:20-21). Yesterday we read that "our God is a consuming fire" (12:29), yet he is also "the God of peace". He has made peace with us through the death and resurrection of "our Lord Jesus". His blood, shed for our forgiveness, is the "blood of the eternal covenant"; it has brought us into fellowship with God and bound us to him for all eternity. And now Jesus has been raised from the dead as the "great Shepherd of the sheep"; the one who cares for his flock and who has said that no one shall pluck them from his hand. This God – holy Father, Shepherd Son and powerful Spirit – is now at work in us; restoring us to be the people he always designed us to be, equipping us for the work of his kingdom. All of this will bring him praise and glory through all eternity.

What God has done for us, and is still doing for us and in us, fills us with wonder and shapes our lives that we might live to his praise and draw others to him.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip us with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Peter Misselbrook