How often we are ashamed of things of which we should, at least, not be ashamed, and proud, alas! of things of which we might well be ashamed.
That “villain shame,” said John Bunyan.
Now in the Epistle to the Hebrews there are two things of which it is written that the Lord Jesus was not ashamed, and the contemplation of them fills the heart with wonder and praise. First, “He endured the cross, and despised the shame” (Heb. 12:2).
The cross was the very antithesis to all the pride and glory of the world. In accepting this He had to incur the reproach of man. He despised the shame. If it signified the reversal of all that man esteemed, as regards earthly glory, fame, honour, wealth, position, and that in every sphere, whether religious, political, or commercial, then He accepted that reversal.
For the cross is the total moral denial of all this; and he, therefore, who would bear the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ must necessarily run in the very teeth of the world. It is death to the world as well as to sin. Hence “persecution for the cross of Christ.” But just as our blessed Lord despised the shame, so He endured the persecution. Nor let us think that He did not feel intensely all He passed through. No pen can depict the agonies of the cross—those agonies of which we may read in Psalm 22. He felt them all. Yet “He despised the shame!” Nay, its shame was His honour!
How great that honour! May none of us be enemies of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor ashamed of its shame.
Secondly, we read in the same epistle (Heb. 2:11), “For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” They, the sanctified, are His brethren.
He, the Sanctifier, has in grace identified Himself with those who are set apart for blessing by the good will of God, and by His own work on the cross. How great His glory who sanctified! How great their guilt whom He sanctified! How infinite the moral gap between! Yet He and they are now “all of one”! He has dome in grace to their platform, and so thorough is the identification that, although in every respect pre-eminent, He and they are “all of one”!
Hence He is not ashamed to call them brethren, or to own this new relationship.
But how wondrous the grace that enables Him to do so! If we view our ways, are we never ashamed of each other? never ashamed of ourselves? Do we never so act as to bring a blush on the cheeks? never so as to cast dishonour on Him? Yet He is not ashamed to call us brethren!
All true; but sin is not contemplated here. We are called “the sanctified,” and it is with such that the blessed Sanctifier associates and identifies Himself. May the effect of this lead to holier manners on our part, and to moral likeness to Him. But just as He despised the shame of the cross, so is He not ashamed to call us brethren. Blessed Saviour and Lord! Let us add further that “God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16). And who are they? Those who confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on earth. He is the God of the pilgrim and stranger. He takes special pleasure in the faith that led an Abraham from his setting, and a Moses from his position, so that each might follow His call in happy heart-and-soul identification with the reproach of Christ. God is not ashamed of such. Are we among that honoured company?
For them He has prepared a city, and a city means association, communion, centralisation. The days of pilgrimage end in the city. Bright prospect!
May we, on our part, not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.