Friday, November 30, 2012

Shame No More

She was humiliated.  The scarlet blush of mortification stained her cheeks as she looked at the ground.  Surrounded by her accusers and others in the temple court, she felt more exposed than she had when they had caught her in the act of adultery.  She felt every eye on her as the scribes and Pharisees thrust her in front of the teacher and announced her sin for all to hear.  No one stood with her.  Her lover had been allowed to escape, and he left her alone to face the punishment and shame for their sin.  It was the lowest point of her life, and the humiliation threatened to engulf her.

The woman caught in adultery could not have known that she was merely a pawn in the Pharisees' attempt to discredit Jesus.  She only knew that they wanted to stone her to death.  Jesus not only passed the test and escaped the trap set for him, He also began to remove some of the shame that was overwhelming the woman.  As he wrote in the dirt, He gave a simple command. "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7).  With those words, her accusers left.  She was standing alone, no longer faced with a crowd of people who knew her sin.  Jesus knew her sin, but he spoke to her gently, telling her to go and sin no more.  Her humiliation began to evaporate.  Jesus had taken it away.

Our Savior continues to take our shame away today.  When he endured the crucifixion, Jesus not only endured the punishment for sin for our sakes, he also endured the shame.  "The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him" (Mark 15:16-20).

Just as Jesus endured the pain and the separation from God, punishments that should have been ours, he also endured humiliation without complaint.  I've often wondered if the mocking might have been harder to endure with meekness than the pain.  I have a high pain tolerance, but I still feel a degree of humiliation when I remember the nicknames the boys on the school bus called me in sixth grade.  The shame of sin revealed is worse than a childish nickname, and no more than we deserve.  Jesus did not deserve it, but he bore the humiliation anyway.

Now, when we go to the Father in prayer, we are not bowed down with the shame of our sin.  Jesus bore that for us, so we can pray to God and humbly ask forgiveness for our sins.  We may be convicted; we may be humble, and we may have to face the consequences for our wrong-doings, but in the end, we can say "Amen, come Lord Jesus" because we can face God through the filter of Jesus's blood. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

Do you have any past sins that are weighing down your heart with humiliation and shame?  Let them go.  Look at Jesus in the face with the knowledge that no one can condemn you with Jesus around.  Then go and sin no more.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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