“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by food regulations, since those who observe them have not benefited.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
There was a day when Christianity was the new kid on the block and people who had a sufficient amount of disposable income that their time wasn’t completely taken up by working themselves to the bone just to put food on the table and a roof over their head were very interested in it. Rich people like that are always drawn to the latest and greatest. Actually, everyone is. Rich people simply have the time to explore it more thoroughly. With 2,000 years of history under its belt now, Christianity is no longer the latest idea out there. And yet, its very stability over the centuries is a source of strength. Let’s talk about why the latest and greatest pales in comparison to a God who doesn’t change.
New things are exciting. They naturally hold out the potential for greatness. You just never know if this thing with which you aren’t yet very familiar is going to turn out to be the coolest, most impactful thing on the world since whatever the last high-impact thing was. In those kinds of situations, there is an almost natural hopefulness in many people. Tomorrow might be better than today and because of this new thing. So, we tune in to new things with excitement. Yet the number of new things that quickly fall into the bin of irrelevance greatly outpaces those which make a bit larger of a splash.
Old things aren’t nearly as exciting as this. They don’t have this kind of latent potential bubbling just beneath the surface. But they are tested. You know what to expect with them. Oftentimes, something that worked really well in the past will still work really well in the future. Not a few major brands that carry a lot of clout today confidently advertise themselves as worth the time, attention, and financial investment of buyers precisely because they’ve been around long enough to be proven tested and true.
The author of Hebrews was writing to a group of believers in the region of Jerusalem somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 years after the resurrection. That is, he was talking to a new generation of believers. New generations have always had a natural inclination toward new ideas. There were likely some younger folks in the audience who were looking for the latest and greatest. They were growing tired of what was and were more and more keenly interested in what could be. They were being drawn to new ideas about marriage and new ideas about money and new ideas about who should lead them. The author here was writing to remind them that contrary to all of the latest and greatest nonsense, Jesus was something…was someone…who could be trusted. They could (and we can) depend on Him precisely because He has been tested and proven true.
New ideas will come and go. Sometimes their very strangeness is what attracts people to them. For us today, the ideas of the Christian worldview have been around for a very long time. It is easy to see how people could start to think of them as stale and unnecessarily restrictive. After all, look at just how much our culture sets before us these days with the assurance that this latest and greatest will be the best yet. We have a remarkable ability to spin just about anything to sound new and cutting-edge. Why, even some very old ideas are sometimes given a new set of clothes in our search for something, anything that can fulfill the desire for more that burns in our hearts.
That was perhaps part of the struggle with the original audience here. The author tells them to not let themselves be led astray by strange teachings. One of these was apparently a return to Jewish food regulations. In doubling down on old Kosher laws, there was apparently an attempt to refresh their faith in Jesus. The author wanted them to understand that this was not the way. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You don’t have to look for new ways to package old ideas in hopes of refreshing His appeal. His call to love doesn’t have to be updated. It doesn’t need fancy new clothes. It is just as good today as the day it was first spoken. And a thousand years from now, it will still be just as good. He doesn’t change. He is a foundation on which we can build our lives and we will not ever be shaken.
All the new things or repackaged old things in the world have never actually benefitted anyone turning to them in the ways they hoped they would. Whatever they happen to be, they are invariable things which draw us away from the truth in the direction of one appealingly presented fantasy or another. Fantasy worlds will never save us. They’ll draw us in and then leave us stranded, without the means to get back to where we started. That shortcut we thought would get us there more quickly will wind up taking us twice as long – or more. Jesus doesn’t change. The way to salvation remains constant. Life will always be the prize when we are willing to walk that well-trodden pathway. His commands will always be fresh and refreshing when we put them into practice. They were perfect when they were introduced, and they have never moved from that spot. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If you are looking for that one thing that will finally put your life back together again or will give your life a purpose it has lacked or will offer a more solid foundation than you’ve known before, consider Jesus. In a field of constantly new growth that comes and goes, He is a strong, tall tree that remains unchanged and absolutely reliable. He will always be the right choice.