Compare Hebrews 13:10-14, Mark 8:34, Matthew 10:38, Luke 14:27, and Galatians 2:20. What does it mean to go to Jesus outside the camp?
The place outside the gate was the most impure of the whole camp. The carcasses of the sacrificial animals were burned there (Leviticus 4:12). Lepers were also excluded from the camp (Leviticus 13:46) and blasphemers and other criminals were executed there (Leviticus 24:10-16, Leviticus 24:23; 1 Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58). These regulations presupposed that the presence of God was within the camp. Anything that was impure was cast outside because God was unwilling to see any “unclean” or “indecent” thing in it (Numbers 5:3, Deuteronomy 23:14).
Jesus suffered on the cross outside Jerusalem (John 19:17-20). This emphasizes the shame that was cast upon Him (Hebrews 12:2). He was officially condemned as one who had “blasphemed the Name” and, therefore, was repudiated by Israel and executed outside the wall (Mark 14:63-64; see Leviticus 24:11, Leviticus 24:16). Jesus was cast outside the camp as a “shameful,” “unclean,” or “indecent” thing (Hebrews 12:2). Paul, however, exhorts believers to follow Jesus outside the gate, enduring the shame that He endured (Hebrews 12:2; see Hebrews 13:13). This was also the path Moses followed, who chose to bear “the reproach of Christ” instead of the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26).
Paradoxically, however, Hebrews suggests that God’s presence is now outside the camp. The action of following Jesus outside the camp means not only “bearing His reproach,” or shame, but also going “forth to Him” (Hebrews 13:13, NKJV) just as those Israelites who “sought the Lord” went “outside the camp” in the desert when Moses removed God’s tent from the camp after the golden calf controversy (Exodus 33:7. NKJV). This account suggests that the rejection of Jesus by unbelievers also implied the rejection of God, as Israel did in the golden calf apostasy (Exodus chapters 32, 33). Thus, the path of suffering and shame is also the path to God.
Paul invites readers to follow Jesus as “the author and finisher” of their faith (Hebrews 12:2), implicitly inviting them also to consider their present sufferings a momentary discipline that will yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). They are leaving behind a corrupted city or camp in search of “the city that is to come” whose architect is God (Hebrews 13:14, ESV; Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 11:16).
|What does it mean for you to follow Jesus “outside the camp”? What are those aspects of the life of faith in Jesus that may bring “reproach” or “shame” from those around you?|