Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you. — Hebrews 13:20-25
Here are the final verses of this grand book. I can’t help but laugh just a little that the author appeals to the audience to bear with these exhortations which he has written to you briefly. I wonder what the long version would have looked like! And there are some personal notes: Timothy has been released from prison, and some of their fellow Italians who were away with the writer send greetings. I wish this helped us identify the author with certainty, but it probably doesn’t.
In this passage we find the crowning glory in the great benediction. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Up to this point the writer hasn’t had much to say about the resurrection of Christ. Obviously it has been assumed throughout, since the resurrection was necessary to make all the spectacular promises he outlines possible, but here it is mentioned explicitly. God brought again (or “led up”) Jesus from the world of the dead. This is proof that He is the promised Great Shepherd, which was the hope of all the faithful from before. On the cross He shed His blood to be the inaugural blood for the eternal covenant (i.e., the New Covenant).
That’s grand and marvelous, but what may be even more staggering is not just that the future is amazing, but that He is working in us right now, at least in a preliminary way, some of the eternal covenant blessings. We are doing His will on earth as it is done in heaven. That means we are bringing His kingdom to bear upon the world. It’s the Great Shepherd of the sheep who is equipping us for this task. Remember, this it written to people suffering persecution. Some have been in prison and others have had their property plundered, but the truth is that they are doing what is pleasing to God through Jesus Christ!
If it is true that through Jesus Christ God is at work in us, we ought to expect struggles along the way. That’s all the more reason to hold fast and give Him the glory forever and ever. This Great Shepherd is the one who pioneered the way and who brings us into the presence of God. He waits to welcome us to the city that is to come, and it is by His death, resurrection and ascension, as well as receiving the gift of His own Spirit that we are equipped to do and be priests to God in the Kingdom that cannot be shaken. And that’s the gospel!