The Shaming of Jesus
Is there one moment in time that you wish you could go back and undo? Is there one embarrassing moment or one major mistake that you are now so ashamed of? Believe it or not, Jesus understands the whole issue of shame and how it can affect a person, sometimes for life.
I remember sitting in a very intense group meeting as we were exploring our past to help us overcome present behaviors based upon those past experiences. I had one event in my life that I was terribly ashamed of. I was sitting in my chair begging God not to ask me to reveal THAT secret. Anything else but that one secret of shame. There was no way that I could ever confess what I did. Don’t we all have that one moment that we hope and pray no one finds out about because if they did, well, maybe they wouldn’t look at us the same anymore?
Jesus was born to a mother that most in her town supposed had been unfaithful to her fiance. Not to mention the incredible story that she gave about her pregnancy being a supernatural miracle from God. She claimed to still be a virgin, yet here she was pregnant. Growing up under the shadow of the rumors and gossip concerning his birth (and mother) certainly could have induced shame in Jesus . . . if he would have allowed it to.
Rumor mills and gossip seem to be a part of our human nature. We love to hear, and tell, the stories of other people whether they are true or not. Jesus’ birth was great fodder for the rumors and gossip to fly. The stigma that came to children either born out of wedlock, or affairs, was really bad in this time period. I believe that Jesus saw the stares of people, and most likely heard the rumors going around. Quite possibly he was ostracized by his peers and other adults in the community. The Bible doesn’t give us any information about this time in Jesus’ life. But knowing human nature as we all do, I am sure that shame was there, ready to label Jesus as being less than because he wasn’t born under the “right conditions.”
So, what lessons can we learn from Jesus living under the cloud of shame from others?
Jesus understands our shame because of the gossip that he endured.
Jesus knew what people thought of him. He knew what the rumors and gossip were. He knows what it’s like to have others form opinions of you that are not true, yet everyone takes them as being true. Jesus knows what it’s like to endure gossip and rumors and have your name slandered all over the place. He knows what it’s like to come from circumstances that aren’t the best. He knows what it’s like to live with people that are not full of grace but tend to look down their nose at you thinking they are better than you.
Jesus didn’t allow other people’s opinions of him to define him.
It’s easy to allow others to label us. It’s easy to give into the identity that the crowd puts upon us. Sometimes it just seems easier to live out what everyone believes rather than be true to ourselves. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be worth the fight. But no one can define you but you! You cannot allow others to tell you who you are. Jesus didn’t. He was secure in who he was regardless of what others thought, said or implied. The beauty of God’s grace is that you are not defined by what you have done. You are defined by your creator and what He thinks of you.
Jesus doesn’t say “shame on you.” He declares, “shame OFF of you!”
Jesus isn’t looking to condemn people. He is looking to take condemnation off of people. While the world, and often times the church, is putting shame on people because of their actions and mistakes, Jesus is wanting to take shame off of people out of his love for them. Guilt is one thing and it is a good thing. It means that we have a conscience and we still can discern right from wrong. Shame is totally different. Shame makes us feel bad about ourselves, whereas guilt makes us feel bad for what we have done. Jesus did not shame anyone. He still doesn’t. He never says, “how could you?” He is always on our side, interceding and advocating on our behalf.
Shame is not from God. Shame will always make us feel less than. God is always trying to bring us up to the level of His love for us. If you are experiencing shame, ask God to deliver you from that, helping you to see the truth. The truth is always what He says about you, not what you say, or what others say. All Him to take the shame off of you so that you can live in true freedom.
Remember the story I started out with, the one where I was scared to share something I had done that I was so ashamed of? With the encouragement and help of the group, I was able to share my deep, dark, shameful secret and I found freedom. Jesus took the shame off of me and released me from the prison I had put myself in.
Do you struggle with shame? Do you feel there are things that God will not, or cannot, forgive? Do you allow the opinions of others to define who you are?