O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for you do what is right.
(Psalm 31:1, NLT)
Disgrace. Humiliation. Contempt. Shame. What ever we label it.
We really don’t like those words. We work hard to avoid them. And when we find ourselves out of favor with others or our name discredited, our pride rears its unattractive head .
Sometimes we bring it on ourselves.
Sometimes misunderstanding and miscommunication cause it.
Sometimes others are mean and cruel.
And sometimes we are attacked because of our faith.
What do we do when that happens.
Seek to make our wrongs right?
Try to clear things up?
Plead our cause?
As the premise of the book, In His Steps (by Charles Monroe Sheldon), asks in the midst of every situation, we might also ask “What would Jesus do?”
Take a look at what Jesus said.
When speaking to crowds of people coming to hear him, Jesus said “What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens be happy!”
Happy, we say?
“Yes,” Jesus says, “leap for joy!”
Why on earth would we do that?
Because “a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
But that seems really far off, we think. This disgrace thing is happening right here, right now. And you want me to be happy?
Jesus goes on to say, “remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.”
We’re not really sure we want to be like the ancient prophets. Great men of God. But the whole life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we know it wasn’t really happening for them.
So, that’s what Jesus said. But what did Jesus do?
When one of Jesus’ disciples was asked a question about a passage in the Hebrew scriptures, he pointed it right to Jesus.
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice.”
Why would the disciple think the prophet meant Jesus?
Because he knew the story.
“But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. ‘Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?’ Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.” (Matthew 27:12-14)
The accusations turned to a death sentence, demanded by the people and sanctioned by the governor, Pilate.
Even as Jesus died, the mocking continued.
“The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery.
‘Look at you now!’ they yelled at him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!’
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,’ they scoffed, ‘but he can’t save himself!'”
“Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.”
But is that the final word? Did disgrace win? Did the mocking matter?
When we take a look at how his crucifixion is recounted years later, we see a different perspective preached.
“Because of the joy awaiting him,”
(there it is again – joy)
“he endured the cross,”
Jesus went to the cross because of joy? Why on earth would he do that?
“disregarding its shame.”
Some versions say despising the shame. One says despising and ignoring the shame. Another says scorning.
Regardless of the word, Jesus was not going to allow the world’s shame keep him from doing what he knew he had to do.
So what happened?
“Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Jesus knew what the end game would be. God wins and gives Jesus the victory and a place of honor!
And we can be encouraged.
“Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
Don’t give up. Don’t let disgrace have the final word.
God is in the business of rescuing us when we are crushed and overwhelmed.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
The best is yet to come.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 & Romans 8:18
And despite anything and everything, victory is ours through Christ.
Lord, I come to you for protection. Because of joy and because I know you are with me in the midst of trouble, I can ignore the disgrace and shame. I will trust You to strengthen me and help me and carry me through the difficulties because the best indeed is yet to come.
Grace & Peace