The book of Hebrews ends with chapter 13 offering moral and religious exhortations and reminders. In the author’s bid to remind his audience not to be swayed by the false teachings that surround them, he points to the unchanging nature of Christ and the examples of the apostles. As we depart from the festivities of Christmas, let us bear in mind the constancy of Jesus Christ our Lord, and let us stay steadfast in our faith. Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday, even though yesterday was Christmas day. There can be only one response on our part to his consistency. Steadfastness.
Yesterday – Today is what some people call Boxing Day – in my culture there’s no Boxing Day, today is just the day after Christmas, and today is significant only because yesterday was Christmas. But when the author says yesterday, he does not mean the immediate yesterday, nor the recent history, but all through ancient history. All that is past. All that has happened, and that has proven that Christ has been unchanging. Yesterday is proof of Christ’s qualities, and one of these qualities is his constancy.
Today and forever – the present, the now, the current. Yesterday’s Christ is the same as today’s – he was risen, and is risen, and is the same Christ we know. He transcends time, unchanging through time; he transcends space, unchanging no matter where we are. When we are children, he will aid us. In our old age, he will aid us too. When we die, and our grandchildren are in the world, the same Christ will guide them too. It does not say tomorrow, but even if it did, the sense of eternality cannot be diminished. While yesterday would stretch a long time back, but always have an end (although God has no beginning, and that’s another massive topic to tackle), but the future is boundless in eternity. Because we know that Christ will be the same tomorrow as he is today; we can place our hope in him. It’s a consistent and reliable place to put our faith in.
Jesus Christ is the same – God’s unchanging nature has been exalted by many [James 1:17, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 102:27], and God himself has declared – I the LORD do not change [Malachi 3:6]; herein Jesus Christ is extolled to possess the same unchanging quality of God. Consider Hebrews 1:3 – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Just as how God is unchanging, Jesus Christ is consistent as well in his qualities.
It is perhaps notable that this verse can be applied to the other qualities of God – i.e. God is love, and he will always be love. Christ preaches love, and he will always preach love. He won’t tell us to hate our neighbours tomorrow. We know he won’t. That’s our assurance in the consistency of his truth and doctrine. Yet does it mean that God cannot be stern in one case and yet compassionate on another? Unlikely, because while compassionate and just are at times two conflicting personalities, they are both qualities of our Lord, and they are not mutually exclusive when it comes to God. God can choose to be compassionate today, and stern tomorrow on his people. I put this crudely, but it is not against his unchanging nature. We know that he is compassionate. We know that he is just. He doesn’t change.
Because God doesn’t change, because Christ doesn’t change, we can look back on the history of our relationship with the Lord as the basis of our hope for tomorrow. And the best response to Christ’s unchanging nature is to be steadfast in the gospel. False messages surround us. Temptations surround us. But when we look towards the unchanging Lord, let us be encouraged to stay steadfast in our faith, which is rooted in him.