by Justin Nash
Hebrews 12:2 – “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When we think of Jesus’ death on the cross, we often focus on the physical suffering and death he endured. But what about the emotional distress he bore? Without question, the physical torture and slow, painful death he suffered were horrible beyond our imagination. As awful as that was, we must not forget the emotional torture he accepted on our behalf.
Jesus, God the Son, left his place with the Father. A place of unspeakable joy, of adoration and majestic glory – a place he had known for eternity. This he traded for something completely unknown to him: shame.
I am well acquainted with shame. I know the guilt and weight of sins committed. I have experienced the ridicule of others, the disrespect and what it is to be publicly embarrassed because of my shortcomings and failings. I have earned most every second of shame I have felt. Most likely, we all know shame quite intimately. But not Jesus, he never did anything that should cause him shame. His moral perfection allowed a shame-free life. Shame was not an experience or emotion he had ever felt, until the cross. And on the cross, rather than running from shame, he embraced it.
The King of Glory surrendered his glory, was cursed, beaten, ridiculed and spat upon. The One who created all things was mercilessly mocked by a rabid mob with a fervent bloodlust. Jesus was stripped, nailed to a tree, lifted up, completely exposed and vulnerable before all men. Not a shred of dignity or mercy was given him. He who deserved nothing but glory and praise received nothing but shame and curses.
He had no shame of his own, so he embraced my shame and the shame of all who would believe in his name. He took the shame we deserved, and we received the joy he possessed from all eternity. Jesus despised our shame and he removed it forever from us on the cross.
Guilt and shame are accusers we will wrestle with until Jesus returns, but we must constantly remind ourselves that their accusations are no longer valid. Jesus embraced our shame and bore its full wrath on the cross.
Jesus has despised the shame now and cast it aside and returned to the joy and glory that were his with his Father. One day he will return in his great glory, and many will feel the immense shame of a lifetime of sin and rebellion against God, but not those who trust in Christ’s work on the cross. We will meet Jesus’ coming in great glory with the unending joy he gave us in exchange for our shame.