Acts, Acts 5:41–42, Ben Witherington III, Biblical Counseling, Courageous Christianity, cross, Gospel, Jesus, John Owen, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Of Communion With the Father Son and Holy Spirit, Puritan, shame, Sin
The final note on Jesus bearing shame is that Jesus transforms shame. As stated above, there are two aspects of shame: Shame before God and shame before human beings.
Now both strains of shame flow from the shame of sin before God. Shame before human beings is an opportunistic disease, taking advantage of the judgment of God. However, when Christ weds the soul, the shame is erased in covenant love.
Yet, the shame of men seeks to lay hard upon our hearts and thus enslave us – and perversely keep us from Christ that we may not be shamed before men:
41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. Acts 5:41–42 (ESV)
Witherington explains the transformation here:
Vv. 41–42 serve as a summary conclusion to the previous episode. Paradoxically, the apostles rejoiced in their suffering, because it was received as a result of their bold witness to Jesus. Though from human point of view being flogged amounted to being shamed or dishonored, from the disciples’ viewpoint, which involved a transvaluation of normal ancient values, it was considered an honor. The apostles were in no manner hindered or inhibited in their teaching because of this experience. Rather they continued to teach every day in the temple and from house(church) to house(church), proclaiming Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah.
Ben Witherington, III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 240. Jesus, having been weighted with the shame of sin the world, having been shamed by the world carried the shame far away.
That good news, that Gospel of Jesus carrying shame has come to lift our shame:
The world is as it is, unhappy and in trouble, simply because it rejects this Gospel. And the same holds true with the individual. Are you in some grievous trouble? Are you ashamed? Are you cast down? Are you disappointed? Are you defeated? It is all because you do not believe the Gospel of salvation and deliverance. That is why we are paying attention to this terrible condition of unbelief. I am saying all this for one reason only. God forbid that anyone should think that I am just putting up these targets in order to shoot them down. I have neither the energy nor the time to do that. No, I am sorry for people who are unbelievers. I see what they are doing, and I see what they are. But they do not see it, and it is my commission to open their eyes.
So I am trying to do what Peter did. “If you really want to know,” he said, in effect, to the authorities, “I will tell you. You want to know by what authority and power this lame man has been healed. The answer is the power and authority of the one you rejected. Can you not see what you are doing?” Peter was concerned for their souls. He was not just getting back at them; he was not trying to be clever. He, with John, was on trial, and they knew that their lives were in the hands of these authorities, who could do whatever they liked with them. Peter was not acting. He was speaking the truth, and he wanted these people to understand. And it is in the hope that, by the blessing of the Spirit, those who hitherto have rejected this Gospel may be given to see exactly what they are doing. For this reason I am calling your attention to these words in Acts.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, vol. 2, Courageous Christianity, 1st U.S. ed., Studies in the Book of Acts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 36-38.
The Gospel seems like so much shame, because Jesus bore such shame. But what the world does not see is that he bore the shame away – and it is gone. He carried the curse , destroyed death, freed those shamed by sin. The world looks and sees the cross, the but when one sees the vindication, the resurrection, we know that shame was left in the grave and now it is glory:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (ESV)