Over the past several months, we have systematically worked our way through the book of Hebrews. We have read many insightful passages and learned many important truths. As we have seen, the recurring and overarching theme of this letter is the superiority of Christ and His work. This morning will we finish our study of Hebrews with the 28th and final message of the series. It is titled, “A Better Greeting”.
I. PRAY FOR US (v18-19)
Before saying his goodbyes, the writer made a serious request. He asked the Hebrews to, “Pray for us.” Though he and his colleagues felt generally good about their conduct and morality, still he sought prayer that they might continue to act righteously. Good behavior today doesn’t guarantee that one won’t slip tomorrow... Living above reproach and resisting temptation is a constant and never-ending struggle. Those who think they can avoid the snares of sin without the Lord’s help and without the prayers of others are destined to fall.
Furthermore, the writer urged his Hebrew readers to pray that he might be restored to them sooner. This suggests that he knew them personally, as he deeply longed to see them again. Obviously, certain unknown circumstances were hindering and delaying him (and those with him) from returning to see these beloved Hebrews. Though he had written and sent them this instructive and encouraging letter, his true desire was come and visit personally.
I have good intentions, but a bad memory. If I don’t write something down within a few minutes, there is a good chance that I will forget it. That said, I have learned that if someone asks you to pray for them it’s best to do it right then. When somebody opens their heart, shares the difficulties that they are facing, and then urges you to keep them in your prayers take a moment and pray with them immediately. Don’t just say, “I’ll pray for you” and walk away - actually take a minute and pray right there.
II. BE BLESSED (v20-21)
As he concludes this letter, the author pronounces a blessing on his Hebrew audience. This is also referred to as a benediction. It begins with an appeal to “the God of peace”. Remember that this letter was written during a time of great persecution and suffering among Christians. Still, even in the midst of such strife, He remains the God of peace - a safe, strong refuge in time of trouble.
This great God of peace raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is described here as the “great Shepherd of the sheep”. He leads His father’s sheep, lovingly protecting them and providing for their every need (Psalm 23). Jesus called Himself “the Good Shepherd… who lays His life down for His sheep” (John 10:11).
May the God of peace who raised Jesus from the dead “equip you in every good thing to do His will”. The writer asked God to bless the Hebrews by providing for and also enabling them to accomplish His will in every way. He further requested the LORD to continue working in them to do “that which is pleasing in His sight.” This equipping and working is done through Jesus Christ, to whom all the glory is given now and forever.
Benedictions are commonly found at the end of the epistles. Such texts are often read or recited at or near the end of worship services. They are typically comforting and assuring passages of Scripture that lift the soul. Perhaps the most well known benediction in the Bible is Numbers 6:24-26 which says, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
III. HEED THIS WORD (v22-25)
The book of Hebrews is rich with theological teaching and practical instruction. The writer closes this letter by urging his readers to heed what’s been written. He stresses that they should take this message seriously, reread it as necessary, and apply it to their lives. He didn’t just write it for fun, or as an academic exercise, or even for their entertainment - No! The truths contained in this letter were to be followed closely and incorporated into their daily living.
In these final statements, the author mentions that Timothy has been recently released (likely from prison). He also states his intention to come see them in person sometime soon, and that possibly Timothy will be with him at that point. It is clear that Timothy did not write Hebrews - but he was well known by whoever did. He then sends final greetings to the leaders and saints of those to whom he is writing, and sends the greetings of those “from Italy” (this doesn’t necessarily mean they were in Italy at the time). Again, this does not conclusively reveal who either party was.
The last line of the letter says, “Grace be with you all.” This was a common expression of farewell during New Testament times. Others include, “The Lord be with you”, “Peace be with you”, or simply “Amen”. These can be seen in various forms at the end of the epistles by Paul, Peter, and John.
In the closing paragraphs of his letter to the Hebrews, the writer did 3 things. He asked for their prayers, he pronounced a blessing over them, and he urged them to heed his message. He also informed them of his plans to come visit shortly.
When I think about this, I can’t help but remember that Jesus is returning for us soon as well. We would be wise to read His words, which are contained on the pages of the Bible, and to take them seriously. By carefully applying them to our lives, we can be found faithful and obedient at His coming. Then we will receive “A Better Greeting”.
I want to conclude this study by sharing a brief and creative summary of the book Hebrews. I crafted it by using the unique titles of all 26 messages preached in this series (a few sermons had 2 parts). It seeks to emphasize the main point of the book - the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ! I hope it is a blessing to you...
Jesus came to earth as a better messenger to proclaim a better promise of a better rest. As the divine Son of God He was and is exceedingly better than angels. As the Word made flesh He was and is far better than men - even better than Moses the prophet and better than Aaron the priest. Jesus set a better example for those seeking a better understanding of the truth. He taught that faith is better than works - that it is a better way unto salvation. Jesus ultimately offered Himself as a better sacrifice for sin, thereby establishing a better covenant in His blood. Jesus now performs a better ministry, mediating between God and man as a better High Priest. He represents a better priesthood and serves in a better sanctuary at the right hand of God. Those who accept Him as Lord and Savior will one day receive a better greeting as they enter into a better city to dwell with Christ on a better mountain for all of eternity. Therefore don’t drift away from Him, don’t doubt His teachings, don’t disobey His commands, don’t depart from His presence, don’t disregard His warnings, and don’t deny this unchanging and irrefutable truth - JESUS IS BETTER!