“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
What the what? What is this passage all about?
When I first read it I thought, “this is all about going outside of my comfort zone and reaching out to those who are on the fringe”. While going to those on the outs is the heart of Jesus, and we are encouraged to do this all throughout scripture, this passage is talking about something else.
These verses are talking about living outside the comfort of black and white, and in the grace and sometimes disgrace of gray.
They are about coming out from under the heavy burden of the law and religion, which is what the city respresents, into the wild and free land of relationship with Jesus.
Even though I say I’m saved by grace I still so often live under the law. I measure my value based on how good I am at keeping the rules, doing and saying the “right things”, and holding others to that same standard of perfection. But this is a very heavy burden that Jesus has NOT asked me to carry.
“Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.'”
We are not meant to be city people. We’re not meant to carry the weight of the the law, nor are we to heap that burden on those around us. That’s what the Pharisees did and Jesus rebuked them. But it’s hard because living in the city is comfortable. In the city things are black and white.
But Jesus went outside of the city. He left the land of the law, and shed his blood, suffered and died to make a gate. He who was sinless, who measured up to the black and white standards, became sin for us. He waded deep into the gray to make a way for us, because let’s face it, we suck at keeping the rules.
Now He’s asking us to meet him there, outside the walls of the camp. To leave the safety of religion and law, to stop putting heavy burdens on ourselves, our spouses, our children and instead, walk in grace. Not so we can sin as much as we want and not be held accountable. Not at all. But so that we can step into the embrace of Jesus, look into His eyes and know we are loved in our mess. We are loved and we are seen and we are forgiven.
That is what will change us.
That is what will draw us away from sin and self destruction.
And that is what will set us free.
There is grace in the gray.