Outside The Camp, Or In The Temple?

Q. It’s written in Hebrews that the Lord Jesus was crucified OUTSIDE the city but Jews say that the lamb is killed IN the temple. How can these be related?

A. According to the Scriptures, the head of each household killed the lamb for his family, not the priest. (Exodus 12:21) 2 Chronicles 30:17 tells of the first time that Levites slaughtered the Passover Lambs for people who were ceremonially unclean, so that they could eat the Passover. Apparently the Pharisees continued this tradition into the time of Jesus, which is why we hear that the Passover lamb was killed in the Temple.

Hebrews 13:11-14 says, The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Remember that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were being tempted back into Judaism. The writer is using “the camp” to symbolize Judaism as a whole, not just Jerusalem. It’s a complicated argument, the gist of which is to truly apprehend Jesus, they had to go outside of Judaism. He said that Jerusalem, the heart of Judaism and the city outside of which the Lord was crucified, was no longer important to them. They were to be looking toward the New Jerusalem, the one that’s coming.

Some feel that by being executed outside the city, Jesus was also fulfilling the prophetic implications of the sacrifice of the red heifer, also killed outside the camp. The ashes of the red heifer, when mixed with water, cleansed the people from sin and purified them after they had touched something dead. The mixture was called the water of purification because washing in it purified the people from their sins and uncleanliness, just as symbolically washing in the Lord’s shed blood has purified us from ours.

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