When Jesus tells people he will be killed and rise again, Peter seems embarrassed. He takes Jesus aside to rebuke him. Jesus turns the tables and answers: Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (v. 38).
That statement worries me. Sometimes I’m ashamed of what people say and do in the name of Jesus. They blame the poor for their own condition. They reject science in the name of religion. They destroy one another to win church fights. Is being embarrassed by that being ashamed of Jesus?
Somehow, I think not. Jesus never forbade us to be ashamed of poor representatives of the faith. What he forbade was being ashamed of him and his teachings. Yet all too often we act ashamed of those too.
When some of us turn our backs on the unsavory, I hesitate to say that we follow one who was and is a friend to sinners. Or, when I hear people say that passing tough laws is the way to deal with crime, I almost never quote Jesus saying that all law boils down to love. Or, when people claim different religious faiths, I’m so eager not to be offensive that I fail to offer the claims of the Christian faith.
Jesus indicts my silence and fear. After all, he said that when he comes in glory, my timidity and shame at his words will inflict shame on him. He didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, of course, or cowering faith (2 Tim 1:7). He redeems us for more.
I pray not to inflict shame upon the one I call Lord. I pray for the courage to claim him and all of his teachings. And I pray that courage will descend on me before he comes in glory.
When was the last time you were ashamed of Jesus or his teachings?
God, please relieve the fear that immobilizes us. Make us bold believers. For the Kingdom’s sake, Amen.