By Larry Ray Hafley
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:8). “If we deny him, he will also deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12; cf. Lk. 12:9).
Ashamed Of Christ?
Of what is there to be ashamed? Shall we be ashamed of his selflessness? Shall we apologize for his humility, courage, faith, devotion, piety, meekness, gentleness? The Son of God, “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). He divested himself of equality with God, “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-11).
Shall we be ashamed of his lowly birth? He was conceived in poverty and born in obscurity. He was “as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:2,3).
Abraham Lincoln was born in abject destitution. Is his greatness tarnished because of his humble origins? No, it is enhanced by it. So, it is with Jesus. Yet, it is different in this sense: Lincoln had no choice in his birth, nor in his deprived circumstances, but Christ did. He chose to humble himself. He emptied himself of eternal, immortal glory and splendor and voluntarily elected to sink in the depths of indigence where he had no place to lay his head. Is that the substance of which shame is born?
Shall we be ashamed of his love, of his willingness to patiently endure cruel insults, aspersions and innuendoes designed to slander his person, slaughter his character and slur his mission? He who made the worlds was refused by his own creation. Man, the work of his hands and the desire of his heart, turned against his Creator, Sustainer and Savior. Spitting vile invectives, they spurned him. Shouting lies in hypocrisy, they ignominiously crucified the Lord of glory. Taunts to come down from the cross to save himself were ignored. His weakness was the strength of their salvation. His foolishness was the wisdom of the ages and of prophetic sages. His shameful death was their glorious life. Despising the pain, suffering and shame, while gasping for breath and writhing in anguish, he begs and pleads, not for his own release or relief, but for his tormentors – “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). I ask you, is this a cause for which shame is the result?
Ashamed Of His Words?
Just which of Jesus’ words should one be ashamed? “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)? This, and numerous comparable utterances, is no reason for shame. But what of his threatening words of condemnation and judgment? Are they to be hidden and denied? No, for they, too, are words of love, grace and mercy. When a parent warns his child, “If you go out into the street, I will spank you,” he is not a monster seeking to arbitrarily restrict and deprive his child of pleasure. Rather, he recognizes the dangers and is protecting him from injury and death. Truly, he chastises those whom he loves (Heb. 12:5-11).
Our Lord’s message is ‘one of grace, hope, peace and love. Juvenile, street corner hucksters hawk their wares of popular psychology with pseudo-words of compassion, positive thinking and self-esteem. “You are wonderful; feel good about yourself.” The Son of God, however, told us we have no reason to rejoice in our sins which have blinded, impoverished and enslaved us. The way up is down, he declared (Lk. 18:14). The way to riches is poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3). The way to be great is in the pathway of service (Lk. 22:27; Matt. 20:26-28). The way of love is the course of obedience and sacrifice (Jn. 14:15; 15:12-14). The way to life is the road to denial of self and, if necessary, to death (Lk. 9:23-25). Certainly, “Never man spake like this man” (Jn. 7:46).
We have all spoken words of shame and disgrace. On their death beds, men have recanted idle, irate words of hatred and spite. Some have repented for believing, accepting and following the erroneous doctrines of others. But on the cross, Jesus did not bewail and bemoan his teaching; he did not need to alter or apologize for anything he had said. And no disciple of the Master has ever had to hang his head in the hour of death and express regret for having believed and obeyed the words of the Son of righteousness.
In view of the undimmed dawn of an unfading eternity, can you put your finger on a line of Jesus’ words which signal shame? By those words we shall be judged (Jn. 12:48). By those words we shall be damned or delivered. “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me” (Psa. 25:2). “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. . . . Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed and let them be silent in the grave” (Psa. 31:1, 17). “For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom. 10:11).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 3, p. 69
February 2, 1989