These last verses in Hebrews seem to gather together the major themes of the letter: peace, the resurrected Christ, the blood, the covenant, spiritual perfection (maturity), and God’s work in the believer. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ died for the sheep (John 10:11). As the Great Shepherd, He lives for the sheep in heaven today, working on their behalf. As the Chief Shepherd, He will come for the sheep at His return (1 Pet. 5:4). Our Shepherd cares for His own in the past, present, and future. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Our Great High Priest is also our Great Shepherd. When He was on earth, He worked for us when He completed the great work of redemption (John 17:4). Now that He is in heaven, He is working in us to mature us in His will and bring us to a place of spiritual perfection. We will never reach that place until He returns (1 John 2:28-3:3); but while we are waiting, we are told to continue to grow. The phrase “make you perfect” (v. 21) is the translation of one Greek word, [katartidzo]. This is an unfamiliar word to us, but it was familiar to the people who received this letter. The doctors knew it because it meant “to set a broken bone.” To sailors it meant “to outfit a ship for a voyage.” To soldiers it meant “to equip an army for battle.”
Our Savior in heaven wants to equip us for life on earth. Tenderly, He wants to set the “broken bones” in our lives so that we might walk straight and run our life-races successfully. He wants to repair the breaks in the nets so that we might catch fish and win souls. He wants to equip us for battle and outfit us so that we will not be battered in the storms of life. In brief, He wants to mature us so that He can work in us and through us that which pleases Him and accomplishes His will. How does He equip us? By tracing this Greek word [katartidzo] in the New Testament, we can discover the tools that God uses to mature and equip His children. He uses the Word of God, prayer, and fellowship of the local church. He also uses individual believers to equip us and mend us. Finally, He uses suffering to perfect His children, and this relates to what we learned from chapter 12 about chastening.
The basis for this marvelous work is “the blood of the everlasting covenant (v. 20). This is the New Covenant that was discussed in chapter 8, a covenant based on the sacrifice discussed in chapter 10. Because this New Covenant was part of God’s eternal plan of salvation, and because it guarantees everlasting life, it is called “the everlasting covenant.” However, apart from the death of Jesus Christ, we can share in none of the blessings named in this profound benediction. As we close on this study blog on the book of Hebrews, lets reflect on the total impact that Hebrews has in answering the all too important question, “How can I stand firm in a world that is shaking all around me?” The answer: Know the superior Person, Jesus Christ; trust His superior priesthood; and live on the things of heaven that will never shake. Be confident! Jesus Christ saves to the uttermost!
Hebrews 13:20-21 Reflection Questions:
How are you continuing to grow spiritually?
What tools is God currently using to “perfect you”?
I’d like to challenge you to make Hebrews 13:20-21 a personal prayer: “Lord, make me perfect in every good work to do Your will. Work in me that which is well-pleasing in Your sight. Do it through Jesus Christ and may He receive the glory.” Amen!