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Honor, Shame & Jesus

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 NIV¹

People questioned Jesus with two motives in mind. They either wanted to publicly discredit and shame Him or to understand his teachings [honor]. For the sake of shame, public questions were smoke screens like in Game of Thrones². If you abate your opponent, you acquire more honor; they lose some. In the book Seeing Jesus from the East³, Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray assert that, “Muslims and Hindus fervently downplay the crucifixion due to its depth of shame.” “Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Orthodox Jews for a while even rejected the resurrection of Yeshua and the idea of a Messiah who dies by persecution, humiliation and shame – resurrecting. The concept of honor amidst public shame and suffering didn’t make sense.

As the world unravels underneath all the struggles of coronavirus, the culture of shame holds rampant. People are getting teased for being Christians especially on opinionated issues like sexuality, race, gender, diet and even economics. This is not a claim to a victimhood status. Muslims are being persecuted by Buddhists in Southeast Asia. In some countries, atheists are killed for their worldview. Homosexuals have been murdered or ostracized and killed. Our generation has become more prone to the disease of shame. Therefore, suffering is inevitable for all, but it sets us up Christians for honor. The crucifixion wasn’t just a transaction. It was Jesus who “…For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [honor]…” (Hebrews 12:2). Our shame and death was swallowed up by Jesus’ victory.

As Christians, we’re not extraordinary but we have One who is! Therefore suffering is inevitable. It’s not a gift in and of itself but it identifies us with Jesus and all His blessings. In death and in life, we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. In our weaknesses, He is strong. Our flesh fails, but He never will. This is the power and wisdom of God that “Consequently, He [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him [Jesus], since He [Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them [us].” (Hebrews 7:25)

1 The Bible. New International Version.

2 Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones. Bantam, Aug 2005.

³ Zacharias, Ravi and Abdu Murray. Seeing Jesus from the East: A Fresh Look at History’s Most Influential Figure. Zondervan, 28 April 2020. 

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