I’ve often argued that Jesus did not come to Earth to die on the cross for our sins in order to set up another “religion.” He came to destroy all religion and set upon the earth the breach or door between this world and the heavenly realm of the Father. He says in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He calls us to realize that there are no more altars of sacrifice. He completed that function on our behalf. Therefore, there is no need of a religious observation. We are called to separate ourselves from that stuff and look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Our confidence is not based on our religious standards or rituals or good works but rather on Jesus’ work on our behalf on the cross. The writer of Hebrews wants us to leave all that behind. He writes in Hebrews 13:13, “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.”

McGee says, “The writer is saying to these Hebrew Christians, ‘Don’t mind leaving the temple. Don’t mind leaving the rituals. Those things are not helpful. Go to Him—Go to Christ.’”[1] He goes on to add, “We are to go ‘without the camp, bearing his reproach.’ The Hebrew Christians hated to leave the temple and their religion. Many people today are wrapped up in ‘churchianity,’ thinking that because they are members of a church they are saved. They need to get away from ritual and religion and come to Christ. Come to Him—that is real separation, and that is real salvation.”[2]

The reproach that Jesus endured, and the writer of Hebrews calls us to bear also is that of leaving our religion behind. The hardest thing for us to give up isn’t drinking, smoking, cussing, dancing and/or playing cards! It’s giving up our religion. Pfeiffer says, “We do not now make sacrifice; we have a sacrifice already made for us in Christ; hence we have an altar. The OT ordinances as here described no longer avail. When Christ suffered death outside the gate on the cross, one of the things accomplished was the setting aside of the Levitical customs. They are now superfluous. The believer’s identification is with Christ outside or without the gate. This means rejection of Judaism on the one hand and rejection by the Jews on the other. For these Hebrew Christians, this was the reproach they were to bear.”[3] The Jews rejected the new believers because the new believers in Jesus rejected their religion. This is the same reproach they held toward Jesus who bore their hatred and wrath by asserting His superiority over all their religious systems.

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Epistles (Hebrews 8-13), electronic ed., vol. 52 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 147.

[2] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Epistles (Hebrews 8-13), electronic ed., vol. 52 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 147–148.

[3] Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett Falconer Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), Heb 13:10.