Shame’s Glorious Replacement
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:27-38
I recall it, and have referenced it a few times. I’m in the second row of desks in first grade. Fifth or fourth from the front. The teacher is going through the roll to see how old each child is. When she came to me, she said, “David, you’re still 5 aren’t you?” I was so ashamed. I need not have been. It might actually be a sort of complement: I was only 5 and yet able to be in first grade. A “Smiling E” was the grade given for excellent work. I didn’t earn many “Smiling E’s” in first grade.
Shame is a “painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior” (Google Dictionary). Biblically, however, shame is a much more far-reaching.
Shame is a consequence of sin. Feelings of guilt and shame are subjective acknowledgments of an objective spiritual reality. Guilt is judicial in character; shame is relational. Though related to guilt, shame emphasizes sin’s effect on self-identity. Sinful human beings are traumatized before a holy God, exposed for failure to live up to God’s glorious moral purpose. The first response of Adam and Eve to their sinful condition was to hide from God, and consequently from one another ( Gen 3:7-8 ; 2:25 ). Christ’s unhindered openness to the Father was both a model for life and the means of removing humanity’s shame. Christian self-identity is transformed “in him.” – Bible Study Tools (The entire article is very insightful and worth reading.)
Would we ever be ashamed of Jesus? Would we ever wish not to be associated with him? Would we ever not wish to be known as one who believes in and follows Jesus? Jesus is the one who took our grief, guilt, and shame. Jesus is the one who was shamed on the cross for our sins. Jesus despised the shame of the cross and sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2).
To be ashamed of Jesus would mean not wishing to be identified as a sinner. Being ashamed of Jesus would involve rejecting his love, finding hope in our strength and righteousness, and ignoring his call to repentance and faith. There is a grave danger in this.
The above-cited reference says, “The prospect of shame at Christ’s return is sometimes a necessary inducement to godliness ( Rev 3:18 ; 16:15 ).” We would wish only to be motivated by love. Sadly, however, as sinful and broken human beings, we sometimes need this lesser motivation to godliness. As Luther says, “We should fear and love God…”
The cure for shame is repentance and faith in Jesus, the love of God, and the forgiveness of sins. Then praise replaces shame – gloriously! That praise will echo throughout the heavens at the Great Last Day of our Lord Jesus Christ!