Summary: Jesus is the constant, consistent, completely sufficient source of our salvation.
Three or four summers ago we did a family vacation trip that included a stop at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. I suspect that many of you have been there and can picture this geyser that was named Old Faithful because like clockwork, every 67 minutes, there is a spectacular eruption of boiling sulfur water.
Well, actually, it used to be like clock work. Apparently there have been some changes under the surface and now old faithful is not quite as faithful or predictable as it once was.
Now the geyser USUALLY erupts every 67 minutes but sometimes it is between 45 and 110 minutes. The culprits-earthquakes and vandalism.
If even this great icon of faithfulness and constancy is failing what can you trust? Certainly not the stock market. Both the NASDAQ and the Dow closed lower Friday than when they opened Monday-the NASDAQ by 11%!
According to the preacher in Hebrews there is a source of stability and constancy that is unaffected by markets-unaffected by earthquakes-unaffected by the rise and fall of political systems-unaffected by crummy relationships we might have with each other. No matter what happens there is a place-a person of stability. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
Lose your job? "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
Lose your husband? "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
Lose your mind? "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
The preacher in Hebrews wants us to see that in spite of the deterioration-the atrophy around us-Jesus doesn’t change. He’s not going to let you-us down. Therefore, we ought to keep on trusting him.
That is, Jesus is the constant, consistent, completely sufficient source of our salvation. This is the key point this morning.
Now, of course, this all sounds kind of philosophical-until you start hitting pot holes in the road-at which point you start to get excited about this shock absorber of a verse from Hebrews 13:8. This verse-and even all of Hebrews-is trying to reassert the total sufficiency of Christ and his sacrifice.
I remember that in one of the churches I attended several years ago we had a Sunday night service which occasionally included a testimony time. It was similar to what we do most every Sunday morning in giving people a chance to share prayer requests and words of praise. Except in this church people tended to give their testimony-or to share a favorite Bible verse.
And there was one older man who would always stand and quote Hebrews 13:8. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Then he would sit down. It was tempting to think it was the only verse in the Bible that he knew or that he could remember.
Personally I suspect that it spoke to his heart more than any other-especially considering all the change that had taken place in his lifetime. He had gone from horse drawn buggies to planes-outhouses to luxury bathes-cat whisker crystal radios to color television with stereo.
The amount of change that some of you have experienced is mind boggling and some times it’s tempting to throw up your hands and scream-"Enough is enough. I want something that is the same-something that hasn’t changed." And perhaps this verse from Hebrews 13 speaks to that need.
But that wasn’t really where the early Christians being addressed in this letter were coming from. They were not having an issue with too much change. They wanted more change. Remember the context.
They were wanting to re-envision Christianity by drawing from the pool of ancient Jewish ritual, as well as that of contemporary Greek thinking. As I’ve said before they were trying to bring together what they considered to be the best of a bunch of religions in order to produce a super religion. But the preacher is arguing that doing this is like throwing a bunch of chemicals together and in doing so creating an unstable and dangerous environment. The only stable-and from a long term perspective truly valuable element-is Christ Jesus. So he’s trying to get them to abandon this propensity toward change and this constant impulse to dink around with the faith.
Now, I’d suggest that most of us are into change-sometimes change just for the sake of change. I mean, our culture has become such that change is seen as normative and even desirable. If we aren’t always changing and constantly influx we feel left out. In order to survive in the main flow of our culture you have to embrace change.
And frankly, I don’t really have a problem with that-within boundaries. I refuse to get a tatoo and I will not pierce my tongue. You can! However, that’s where I draw the line! But generally speaking, I’m wired in such a way that I think change is life’s great adventure. New places, new faces, new technology-it all captures my imagination like nothing else. Like so many of you I live and breath change.