Jesus Died Outside of Jerusalem
In our minds, we think of the carcasses of animals sacrificed at the temple as being totally consumed in the fires which continually burned at the altar. While this was true of some sacrifices, there were those times when carcasses of the animals were taken outside the camp and to be burned. In such instances the animals had been part of a sin offering, given to bring about purification of the Jews.
The writer of Hebrews affirms that those things in the law were “a shadow of the good things to come” (Heb. 10:1). Is it possible that those sin offerings which were taken outside of the camp (later, when the temple was built, they were taken outside of the city) had a hidden message from God which He would later reveal to His people? Sacrifices were made at the altar, but the bodies of the animals used in sin offerings were often taken outside of the camp. How could this have any possible significance?
The last chapter of Hebrews is remarkable. From the first word in this book our God presented unanswerable arguments to the Hebrews (Jewish Christians) showing how Christianity excels above Judaism. At least twelve times the word “better” is used to contrast a lesser way (Judaism) with a better way. Judaism had its purpose, but Christ came to fulfill its requirements so that it could be removed from God’s plan for the redemption of all mankind. Thus, in the final chapter, the writer urges, “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines” (verse 9).
The Jews still had the altar at the temple, but the writer affirmed, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat” (v. 10). One could no longer approach God through the system revealed by Moses. Jesus Himself is the way, the only way, and no man can come to God apart from Him (see John 14:6). The writer of Hebrews points out that those animals used in sin offerings were removed from the tabernacle/temple. He then makes this amazing conclusion. “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (v. 12). This is followed immediately by another conclusion, “Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (v. 13). Eternal redemption was found in the environs of Jerusalem when He died, but it was not found in the temple. It was outside of that place!
What a blessing that He died outside the city of Jerusalem, outside the camp, outside the gate. Christianity is the only way for men to find forgiveness. Take time to count your blessings and to thank God that you have found the Redeemer, the one who suffered outside the camp for you!