Meditations in Hebrews 13: 62 The Unchanging Jesus
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Why this verse: There is this amazing little verse in Hebrews that always stands out to me. It almost stands out like a lighthouse on a rocky outcrop and at first sight you might wonder why it is here in this particular place. Well, first of all, it comes after the verses that said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (v.5) and “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid”, (v.6) and then, “Remember your leaders…imitate their faith.” (v.7) and so when we are told that Jesus is unchanging it is like saying, you need to do these things because he is the same Jesus who challenged and chided his disciples and looks for our obedience. Second, it is followed by “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings,” (v.9) which again is a requirement to follow the faith without wavering and the fact that Jesus is still here as head of the church overseeing us, should encourage us to remain firm.
Overall: When it says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” it says to us, have no doubts because the Jesus you read of in the Gospels is the same Jesus who presides over the Church today and will be the same Jesus we will have dealings with every day of our lives.
Jesus – the big picture: But earlier in these studies we say, first in the prologue of the first verse verses, that this Jesus is the Son of God who has existed from before the beginning of time, who was involved in Creation with his Father, who upholds this world by the word of his power and who, after having fulfilled his work of redemption through the Cross, ascended into heaven and is now seated at his Father’s right hand, ruling over the end times until the time when he overcomes all his enemies and hands back the kingdom to his Father. Nothing has changed! That is still how it is. He is ruler. We also saw, in a later study, that he is the Lamb in heaven. Overseeing the last times until the time when he will return as a conquering king.
Encouragements: What particular things might encourage us, knowing he is the same today as we see in the Gospels? Perhaps the first thing is the way Jesus loves, accepts and has compassion for his children who feel low or weak. The one thing we can know as his children is that he still loves today and accepts sinners who come to him in exactly the same way he accepted the likes of Zacchaeus or the woman caught in adultery or even his disciples who stumbled over their feet spiritually speaking. As long as we are willing to be strictly honest with him about ourselves, he is there with open arms, full of compassion and understanding
Challenges: One of the less comfortable things, perhaps, about Jesus is that he chides those closest to him when they lack faith, and yet watching him in the Gospels we see that even when Jesus chided someone like Peter that didn’t mean he excluded Peter from his company. In fact, quite to the contrary, we find that those who are willing to face Jesus with their failures, like Peter, are prime candidates for promotion in the kingdom. The worst we can do for Jesus is nothing. He doesn’t mind us trying and stepping out with mustard seed sized faith as long as it is faith. He understands that we are like little children who have a long way to go and therefore he isn’t put off when we don’t quite get it right. This Jesus that we see in the Gospels is exactly the same as the Jesus we encounter today and he will be the same tomorrow and the next day.
Jesus who changes people & circumstances: Now there is a slight challenge to all this because the Jesus we find in the Gospels is a Jesus who did things and changed lives. For instance, he said to John the Baptist’s disciples, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Mt 11:4,5) But then he also said, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing.” (Jn 14:12)
Now please note this was a general teaching and he didn’t say, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing – for the next forty years but after that I will stop being me because I can’t trust my body, the church, so these things will stop happening.” I would suggest that any teaching that says after the canon of Scripture was completed, Jesus stopped doing these things through his body, denies our verse above and is an excuse for unbelief.
Overcoming Unbelief: Now I believe there is a difficulty here and that is that where there is a culture of unbelief (e.g. the leader or elders denying the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel and failing to teach and lead appropriately) it is very difficult for the individual to break through on their own (though not impossible). If you feel frustrated like this, pray and ask the Lord to put you in contact with people of like heart who will seek the Lord with you and step out in faith as he leads. Remember Jesus Christ IS the same yesterday and today and forever. Let’s live accordingly.