I was reading the Bible with someone this week when we came to these words: “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Hebrews 13:13) – where “him” is Jesus and “outside the camp” refers to him being crucified outside the city. It’s a call to be identified with Jesus despite the shame it may bring us.
As I reflected on those words and thought ahead to Good Friday, I realised that it’s easy to play down the shame and disgrace of the cross. Crucifixion was designed to disgrace its victims, as a warning to others, placarding to everyone: “You don’t want to be one of them.” Indeed, when Jesus died he was the person nobody wanted to be seen with. Yet the writer to the Hebrews encourages his readers – and us – to bear the disgrace Jesus bore, to be ‘one of them.’
Jesus became the ultimate outsider, the outsider of outsiders. He was cast out, even away from God himself, so that through faith in him we could come in and become insiders with God. So when we find ourselves outsiders, remember this: Jesus knows what that’s like and he can bring us in to God himself. And our writer goes on: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (verse 14). One day shame will give way to glory.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)