Formations 10.29.2023: Our True Sacrifice

Hebrews 13:8-17

Some of today’s lesson text deals with animal sacrifices to God, a practice we (hopefully) no longer do. As with other old rituals and practices in the Bible, it’s easy for us to skim these verses and dismiss them because they don’t apply to us. But as with those other Bible passages, there’s something in this one for you and me.

First, Jesus never changes. Jesus’s love for us, his ministry to us, and his sacrifice for us is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (v. 8).

Second, we don’t kill animals and bring their blood to the church altar while their bodies burn outside. But God does require a sacrifice from us: “the fruit of lips that confess his name” (v. 15). What is this fruit? When we say we are God’s people, our lives need to show that. We are “to do good and to share what [we] have” (v. 16). That can certainly feel like a sacrifice. And it pleases God!

Third, we should make our leaders proud to lead us. Our obedience to good leadership is another way to show the fruit of our commitment to God. There are Bible stories that warn against bad leadership and show some of our heroes of the faith taking a stand against it. These verses in Hebrews, though, point toward good leaders who are “keeping watch” over us. Let’s make their job joyful (v. 17).

The Bible will always reflect the times and places of the people who wrote it. Sometimes the stories and lessons seem archaic, but when we let God lead us while we study, we will never stop learning. May we understand the true sacrifice God requires from those who love the never-changing Jesus: not just praise but faithful living that benefits other people.


• What are some other Bible passages that seem like they don’t apply to us today? Can we still find lessons in them?
• Why do you think biblical writers mention “fruit” so often when they describe the faithful life?
• What kinds of fruit have you seen other Christians bear?
• What kind of fruit do you struggle to bear?
• How can you be more faithful in offering your sacrifice of praise?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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