Life can take alarming twists and turns in a matter of moments. An automobile accident takes a life, a doctor’s appointment identifies a critical sickness, a call to the manager’s office heralds a dismissal, a downturn in the stock market signals financial ruin, a phone call announces an arrest. Suddenly and without warning, life is turned irrevocably upside down.
There is a special charm in the terse but powerful statement, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Of course, while the statement is complete in itself, it also should be seen it its context. “Yesterday,” Jesus Christ was the one whom leaders of the church in its infancy trusted. The writer of Hebrews insisted, “Think of all the good news that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do” (13:7). As the readers remembered the early church leaders and their godly lives, they could see something of the faithfulness of Jesus as he had proved himself trustworthy throughout their experience. So in their present trials, the writer said, Christians should recognize that Jesus would be everything to them that He had been to the previous generation of their leaders.
As a result, they must “Today” avoid being “attracted by strange, new ideas” (13:8). If Jesus was all that was necessary for powerful living in a bygone time, nothing had changed. He would be adequate for the present day, too. So the “new ideas” that were being propagated were not only unnecessary, but they also were unacceptable if they in any way diminished the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus in the lives of believers. Moreover, this situation would never change. “Forever,” Jesus would be the same.
Life is made up of uncertainties. In the midst of uncertainty, there is One who is certain, unshakable, immovable, solid as a rock, reliable, constant, and totally trustworthy. Henry Francis Lyte probably had Hebrews 13:8 in mind when he wrote in his famous hymn, “Abide with Me”:
Change and decay in all around I see,
Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me.
There is always a certain fascination with new ideas. For many people, novelty is an antidote to boredom. That which has become predictable and permanent loses its charm, and people look to be excited, invigorated, and freshened by something new. What they need is to be excited and renewed daily in the knowledge that the all-sufficient Christ is with them. This way, when change comes, Christ will be front and center–unchanging. And in a changing scene, they will be found trusting and thriving–unchanged.