Summary: The letter to the Hebrews ends with some specific ways we can live a life of love.
THE POWERFUL LIFE OF LOVE Hebrews 13
Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
In our study of Hebrews we have noted that Jesus is our All in All. Jesus is our Trailblazer, placing before us a path of faith to follow. Jesus is our High Priest, opening up access to God by his death. Jesus is worthy of our faith, demonstrated by heroes of faith.
Hebrews 13:15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
The Hebrews were being influenced to go back to a way of life without Jesus. But all through the letter to the Hebrews Jesus is on center-stage as the One we must have in our lives. In the final chapter of Hebrews the writer spells out for readers in very practical ways the power of a life with Jesus . And the life with Jesus is a life of love. Jesus thought it was so important that he said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35) Hebrews ends with six powerful encouragements to live a life of love.
1. KEEP ON LOVING (13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.)
The Hebrews were encouraged to build relationships in church. To keep their faith strong and not to consider turning away. To remind each other of the love and strength to to be found in solidarity. To “keep on” loving - it’s not a new thing for them! It can be challenging, but it’s something worth doing. To regard one another as brother and sister - family relationships that are not torn by disagreement or disappointment.
God is our Father and Jesus is our brother. If we are family, then we follow their lead - to live a life of love that unites, strengthens, empowers, and reaches out.
2. ENTERTAIN THE ANGELS (13:2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!)
From the beginning Christianity was built around a love for strangers. Ancient Christian Roman named Lucian called Christians gullible, charging that ever tramp could find food and housing by convincing them of his religion. (Fudge). In the first century, hospitality was a practical virtue because inns were both dangerous and immoral places. There were no Ramada Inns, Motel 6, or Best Western. Hospitality means “love for strangers”.
Matthew 25:35 I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
This can be a challenging teaching. Hospitality can be expressed in many ways - but showing kindness to all in our community is our goal. Ray Stedman remionds us, “Certain Old Testament saints, because of their hospitable ways, had enjoyed extraordinary experiences with angelic visitors. Noteworthy among them would be Abraham (Gen 18), Gideon (Judg 6), and Manoah (Judg 13).”
Barclay: “Christianity was, and still should be, the religion of the open door."
3. SEEK OUT THE STRUGGLERS (13:3, 16 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. … And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.)
In his Prison Fellowship newsletter, Chuck Colson tells of a minister who was putting the final touches on his sermon early one Sunday morning when he heard a knock on his study door. There stood three ragged boys who had received gifts from church members. Their home was ravaged by drugs and prostitution. They had never been in a church before and wanted to look around. So he gave them a quick “tour.” Fifteen minutes later they were back, asking what time the service started. “Can people come to your church if their socks don’t match?” asked the oldest. The pastor assured them they could. “What if they don’t have any socks?” Again, the pastor reassured them. “That’s good,” said the boy, “because my socks don’t match, and my little brother doesn’t have any.” That morning those boys came to church and were warmly welcomed. Since then the church has helped the entire family.
Lightfoot: The principle taught is that of the Golden Rule: they were to imagine themselves in prison and to treat their oppressed brothers as they would want to be treated (see Mt 7:12).