According to Hebrews 13, the bodies of animals whose blood was offered in the Old Testament as a sacrifice for sin were disposed of outside the camp of Israel. Jesus, the Lamb of God, who poured out His blood for our sins, also suffered outside the camp, thus identifying Himself with a long history of redemptive sacrifice.
Inside the walled city there was security, fellowship and ease. Outside the camp it was a different story. There Jesus experienced loneliness when His disciples forsook Him. There He experienced the agony and abuse of crucifixion on Golgotha. And there He bore the reproach both of sinful men and Satan himself. Jesus went there freely, however, with a view toward redeeming those inside the gates.
We, too, are called to go outside the camp for, as Christ’s people, we must be where He is. Only when we live outside the camp can we have communion with Him. The church must give up her safety and laziness, for Jesus stands outside a lifestyle that seeks comfort and leisure and material wealth. And another thing, the church must be willing to risk her respected reputation to share in Christ’s reproach.
Jesus does not invite us outside the camp for ceremony; He invites us for crucifixion. As Bonhoeffer wrote, “Jesus bids us come and die.” Unless the church is a crucified church she can have nothing to do with her crucified Lord. It is time for us as the spiritual body of Christ to bear the marks inflicted upon His literal body. And they are the marks of crucifixion and abuse.
Only when we are willing to live outside the camp will we have a genuine redemptive message for those inside the gates.
Let us therefore go to Him outside the camp.