“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:12-13).
Much like the concrete blocks that establish a sturdy foundation, this portion of Scripture makes use of several block-like elements that build towards a wide-ranging application.
Our first building block returns us to chapter four of the Old Testament book of Leviticus. That portion of Scripture tells us that the remains of a sin offering were carried beyond the perimeter of Israel’s encampment (Leviticus 4:21). In like manner, John 19:17-18 records Jesus’ own experience in that regard: “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”
“Outside the camp” (or outside the city limits of Jerusalem, in this instance) represented the place of rejection, separation, and exclusion. Thus, as one source concludes, “…just as the body of the sacrificial animal, slain on the Day of Atonement, was taken outside the camp and burned, so Jesus was taken outside the city gate to suffer for and sanctify His people by His death (11-12).” (1)
That leads to our next building block: “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp…” Then, as now, Jesus’ followers should be willing to join Him in that place of rejection and separation wherever it may be. As Jesus Himself once said to His followers…
“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names! But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all” (Matthew 10:24-26 NLT).
Finally, we can be secure in the knowledge we have an eternal home that awaits us. That promise enables us to join with Christ and bear His reproach, as we’re told here in Hebrews 13:13. In the words of 2 Peter 3:13, “…we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Our author will explore that promise at greater length next.
(1) New International Bible Commentary general editor G. C. D. Howley, consulting editors F. F. Bruce, H. L. Ellison. Copyright© 1979 by Pickering &Inglis Ltd [pp. 1530-31].