Hebrews chapter 13 is the final chapter and section of the epistle; it focuses on the Christian’s life, conduct and ethic in light of what Jesus Christ has done for us in the Gospel. It reveals God’s will as to how to acceptably worship Him as we love one another, show hospitality, minister to the persecuted, honor marriage and stay free from the love of money (vv.1-6). Amid issuing these final instructions, the author of Hebrews inserts this stunning exultation in verse 8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Such a declaration is pregnant with meaning. In this single sentence, we can support profound truths and vivid theology about the nature and work of Jesus Christ.
A question that rises as we read verse 8 is – how does this statement fit the immediate context of giving life instructions to believers in Hebrews 13? We will discuss how this truth about the unchanging nature of Christ is linked to the exhortations before and after it, as good exegesis and application of hermeneutical rules would require us to. Yet, as important as context rules are to derive a proper understanding, I believe that verse 8 stands out on its own as an expression of praise about Christ, the Son, who our author has been spending so much time describing.
Saying that Jesus is the same, is an idea that was introduced in lengthier terms in chapter 1 of the epistle. In Hebrews 1:8-12, our author writes: But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” He links the sameness of the Son of God to His Deity (see 1:3) as well as His eternality. Jesus’s sameness is not only in His nature and character, but in His ethic; He loved righteousness and hated wickedness (v.9). This is very important in a world with an ever-changing ethic that has no foundation.
It is vital that Jesus Christ be the same yesterday because yesterday is when the Messiah was prophesied of. If we could not look back into the types and shadows of the Old Testament (as the author of Hebrews does) we would have no basis upon which to understand who the Son of God is. It is crucial that Jesus Christ be the same today because today is where we live and move and have our being. If Jesus Christ changed along with the culture, we would have no base upon which to build our lives. It is essential that Jesus Christ be the same tomorrow because all our hope for everlasting life hangs on Him.
Hallelujah! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.