At times we all feel inadequate, insignificant, less than, or unloved because of some deficiency, real or merely felt. We may fall into a pit of feeling bad about ourselves, even if we know better.
We need fresh eyes and a soft heart. We need to become transfixed with Jesus’ glowing, pure face as we recall his journey in Holy Week.
At each station of the cross, Christ is dissolving your shame. When we feel inadequate, insignificant, or bad about ourselves we’re needing to fix our eyes on Jesus anew and receive the ministry of him scorning of our shame (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Before Governor Pilate the sin-free Messiah is criticized and condemned to crucifixion, but he stands in quiet confidence, non-anxious, non-defensive, non-violent, non-ashamed, overflowing with love for you and me. (Mark 15: 1-15, Matthew 27:23-31)
Bruised and bloodied from being whipped nearly to death, Jesus lifts the heavy cross upon his shoulders and stumbles up Calvary Hill for us. (John 19:13-17, John 19: 5)
Some women weep hysterically over him and he replies, in effect, “Don’t cry for me, cry for yourselves. Look, I’m being sustained by my Papa’s love and I’m prepared to receive the abuse of the world and of hell and overcome it with a tidal wave of gentle justice. Cry out your hurt, cry out your sin, cry out to Papa and me for the mercy you need.” (Luke 23:27-28 paraphrased)
The soldiers strip the meek and mighty Man from Heaven and abuse him more as they nail him to the wood and hoist him up to torture him to death. There’s Jesus “lifted up” for all the world to see: a naked, bloody failure; a pathetic man. (John 19: 23-24)
“He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” the crowd jeers in disgust. “Some Messiah he turned out to be! If he was God’s anointed one with God’s power then why didn’t he set Israel free from Rome’s tyranny over us?” (Luke 23:35)
Jesus is crucified between two thieves and as they’re writhing in pain they also hurl insults at him. (Luke 23: 33-43)
Jesus hangs on the cross, enveloped in darkness. His disciples and friends have run away in fear. It seems God has forsaken him and is punishing him. He’s alone — except for Mary and the Beloved Disciple (John), along with a few other women, who are huddled together in the spray of his sweat, tears, and blood. (John 19: 28-37, Matthew 27: 50)
Any human being would feel embarrassed, dejected, rejected, and awful in these events. Jesus absorbed derision, desertion, rage, and brutality — yet he responded with kindness. Our Lord scorned the shame out of love for you and me.
Every person around the cross of Christ was touched by the tender-tough grace of God. People in the palace, soldiers, Pharisees, criminals, mothers, and disciples all saw perfect love on display and many, including some from each these groups, came to receive shame-free life from Christ.
When you feel bad Jesus knows how you feel. He’s been in your skin. He’s experienced that rejection, that aloneness, that failure, that sin — and stayed true to God and pure in his love for all.
Jesus scorned his shame to show you how to scorn your shame!
To receive Jesus’ scorn-shaming ministry we need to keep going over the events of Jesus’ passion-suffering and his resurrection that defeats sin, death, and hell. We do this in private prayer and with a soul friend at the cross (like Mary and John).
Abba of Jesus, come meet us at the cross. As you sustained and saved your Son, sustain and save us. Cause your scorn-shaming mercy to work in us and through us to others. Just as you love us we pray to love others — even those who are difficult, even our enemies. Amen.