When they were new in their faith, the “Hebrews” confidently followed Jesus through the pain of ridicule, alienation, and even loss of home (10:32-34). But days, months, and years have passed since those “former days” (10:32; cf. 6:10) when their faith was that vibrant. Some have grown weary from the constant struggle of living out their Christian faith in an increasingly hostile culture. They have heard and spoken the words “Jesus is Lord,” but the fact of their present circumstances is making this confession seem more like fantasy.

This pastor, an old friend, who had been a leader in their community in those early days, has been apart from them for sometime, but remained in contact. He delivers—via letter—this sermon (13:34, “a word of exhortation”) with heartfelt concern regarding the reports of spiritual indifference and apathy that he has received about them. He speaks with an urgent yet hopeful tone, knowing that they have been wrestling with the cost of commitment to Christ, wondering if it’s worth it anymore.

Into their doubt, discouragement, and disillusionment, this pastor challenges them to open their ears to God’s Old Testament promises that have found their fulfillment in Jesus. In the midst of their suffering, he encourages them with the truth that their Creator God has fully entered into their struggle in Jesus, a great high priest and king, who can sympathize with their situation as he took on humanity, yet can lead them through their situation as the one who offered himself as a fully sufficient offering for sin. In light of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, they can draw near to God the Father boldly and confidently, persevering through pain and persecution with a renewed confidence and a faith issuing in works of love and service.