Who would’ve expected that the Messiah would suffer many things and be rejected by the authorities of His day? But it must be (Lk 9:22). It also must be that those who would follow this judged and condemned Jesus must likewise live as dead men walking, as men also judged and rejected by the world. The prospect of pervasive rejection will expose us to the temptation to be embarrassed of Jesus, to be ashamed of [Him] and [His] words (Lk 9:26). This we must not do, for we face a judgment far more serious than that leveled against us by men and society’s institutions. We face Final Judgment when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
To be ashamed of Jesus is to be more concerned for how men might judge us than how Jesus will judge us. If we’re ashamed of Jesus it is due to unbelief and doubt. Being ashamed of Jesus before men means that we are uncertain of Jesus’ victory, that maybe we’ve identified with the losing side. Being ashamed of Jesus and His words indicates that we are unsure whether Jesus is telling us the truth. It means we’re not sure, but maybe Jesus is wrong.
With this uncertainty and doubt, we are inclined to give more weight to men’s assessment and acceptance of us than Jesus’. We are liable to fear the punishment of men’s judgment against us. We fear that men will socially embarrass us, ostracize us, publicly denounce us, oppress us economically and even do us bodily harm. This fear of man will convince us not to take up our cross and bear the reproach of the Christ who must suffer many things and be rejected.
The pressure of being judged by men is immense, but there is a judgment of far greater concern. The Son of Man, that majestic enthroned figure of Dan 7:13,14, is none other than Jesus Himself. At the end of the age, the Son of Man will return in resplendent heavenly glory. At that time, He will execute Final Judgment. It is true that we are justified by faith alone, resting simply in Jesus alone and that we are given His righteousness by grace alone. We will never be condemned (Rom 8:1). But we will give an account of every careless word (Mat 12:36), and of every deed done in the body whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:10). The principle which will operate in judgment is the Lex Talionis: the law of retributive justice. We will be judged with proportionate precision: an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth (Exo 21:23-25). The idea is reciprocity. The judgment mirrors the one being judged. Jesus informs us that this principle of Lex Talionis will regulate how it is that we will be judged by Him. Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven (Mt 10:32,33). We who confess Jesus before men will be confessed by Jesus before His Father. Those who deny Jesus before men will be denied by Jesus before His Father. Jesus’ presentation of us to His Father will mirror our presentation of Jesus before men. Our presentation of Jesus before men is therefore a prophecy (so to speak) of how Jesus will present us to His Father. If we are ashamed of Jesus before men, He will be ashamed of us before His Father. If we gladly identify with Jesus before men, He will gladly identify with us before His Father. Lex Talionis. One primary indicator of how we will fare in that Day when Jesus will judge us, is how we are presently presenting Jesus to others who are judging and rejecting Him.
The disciples hoped for a grandiose earthly kingdom of political power and wealth, but they would have to learn to identify with Jesus as He suffers many things and be rejected by the authorities and killed. How embarrassing! They expected applause and popularity, but they got ridicule and rejection. In this age, Jesus will be judged negatively, scorned, mocked, persecuted and eventually murdered. Jesus warns us not to be embarrassed of Him. As Jesus is being rejected, we’ll be tempted to be embarrassed of Him. When we’re faced with that temptation, we need to recognize that our response in that situation will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. How we present Jesus to men in the context of being judged by men foretells of how Jesus will present us to His Father in the context of being judged by Him.
Do you want to know how Jesus will receive you into His Kingdom? Look at how you are presenting Jesus to men. If you confess Him to men, He will confess you to His Father. If you are embarrassed of Him before men, He will be embarrassed of you. His presentation of you to His Father will mirror your presentation of Him to men.
Aren’t you proud of Jesus? Don’t you have a sense of noble privilege to be known by Him and promised an eternal inheritance? Isn’t Jesus your most exalted, glorious, loving, beneficent Lord? Don’t you want to get up on the roof tops and declare His praise before men? Don’t you want to live in such a way as to bewilder men by your steadfast hope and compassionate deeds and attract them to Jesus? Let us never be embarrassed of Jesus. Think of it, He is not ashamed to call you His brother. Do not be ashamed of Him. And now, little children, abide in Him, so that if He should appear, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming (1 Jn 2:28).Alan Dunn, Pastor Grace Covenant Baptist Church Flemington, NJ