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As we begin a new calendar year, the year of our Lord 2021, we are anxious to move beyond the dreaded year of 2020 and put it behind us! And yet, as we move on ahead we are not quite sure what this new year will have in store for us as so much uncertainty and turmoil abound in our country.

As my alma mater Concordia Seminary St. Louis began its 182nd academic year this past fall under unusual conditions to say the least, they began with the theme “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). As interim President Rev. Dr. Daniel Preus welcomed students back to campus, he acknowledged that we are living in times of change, trouble, stress and anxiety. And yet, he encouraged students not be timid or afraid. Why? Because, as President Preus put it so well in his address, “Our Savior never changes. What He offers never changes. He offers forgiveness, life and salvation. These never waver, never change. They never fade. They are constant. And so in the midst of change and trouble we have comfort and we have confidence in God's constancy.”

When the writer to the Hebrews says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,” he is not offering some abstract or theoretical statement about the eternal existence of the Son of God, though it is true that the triune God Father, Son and Holy Spirit never changes. Rather, he is offering a practical summary of the points he has already made in his letter for the benefit of his audience that they may live with confidence, hope, peace and joy even in the midst of trial and persecution.

Yesterday, Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death” (Hebrews 5:7). He is the great High Priest who offered Himself as the once and for all sacrifice for sins with His own blood (5:7–10; 9:12, 26–27; 10:11–14). Today, Jesus remains the ever-living High Priest who sits at the Father's right hand making intercession and offering prayers for us right now (7:20–24) with His mercy, grace and help readily available to those who call on Him (4:14–16). And forever, this same Jesus, who is the great High Priest forever because He lives forever, is ever faithful and is coming again to consummate the salvation of His people and the reign of God forever (9:28). Those “who are eagerly waiting for him” (9:28) will receive their promised eternal inheritance in full (9:15; 11:8) through Christ who is the mediator of a new (9:15) and better covenant (12:24).

This profound, wonderful and succinct verse became a ‘motto’ for early Christians living through troubling times of crisis and suffering intense persecution. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:2a), these first Christians were able to “hold fast the confession of hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful” (10:23). This ‘motto’ or confession of faith must be our mantra that we repeat and sing over and over again so that we too are grounded in hope and sustained in faith in these gray and later days!

It’s hard these days not to be cynical about the present, concerned about tomorrow and anxious about the future. But the truth is that no matter what lies ahead for us in this always-changing ever fallen world of ours, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Kingdoms and kings of this world rise and fall, priests and people come and go, everything in this life withers, fades, rusts, rots and dies, but Jesus Christ remains forever! His reign and throne are forever and His Kingdom has no end (Luke 1:33). He who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3), upholds you and His Church forever. And so we can live with confidence, certainty, and even joy that come what may, as we sung this past Sunday, “I am baptized into Christ, I'm a child of paradise!” 1

Blessed Epiphany,
Pastor

  1. Erdmann Neumeister, “God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It” in Lutheran Service Book (Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 594.

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.