Shame and Salvation

Jesus, Conqueror of Shame

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.2

In an article published in the Atlantic Robert Karen once wrote that shame is “like a deformed body part that we organize our lives to keep ourselves and others from seeing.” The accuracy of this insight is born out by the Scriptures. The term used for “shame” in the Bible, and from which “ashamed” comes, means precisely this. And these same terms could easily be translated “deformity” or “twisted” or “disfigurement” or even “ugliness.”

In Psalm 25 when David prays do not let me be put to shame, he is describing his fear of  having his sinful ugliness exposed for all the world to see. The solution to our moral deformity, to the sin and the shame that so easily entangles us, the writer of Hebrews tells us, is that Christ endured the cross, scorning its shame.

According to the Scriptures’ view of sinful humanity we are morally deformed and the only hope for us is that there is one who understands our shame, and is not shocked by the deformity of our souls. One who can make us whole again. Let us then fix our eyes on Jesus! He has conquered shame. The cross was the emblem of the disfigurement and deformity of sin, the shame of the human race, and it was a shameful way to die. It was so degrading that no Roman citizen could be sentenced to crucifixion. His death on the cross assures us that Jesus has plumbed the depths of human shame. He never sinned, but he has fully experienced sin’s shame. Now he is at the right hand of throne of God. In his resurrected power, Hebrews 7.25 says he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. His joy, his living, his passion now is for US. The law of God exposes us as morally disfigured creatures, but through Jesus’ death on the cross and his constant intercession we are being transformed and made precious and wonderful. And if he knows everything about us and he knows the worst about us and yet loves us, then of whom shall we be afraid? Shame’s power has been broken and the life we live now, we can live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. And that is a comfort to us like we’ve never known before.


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