Not Ashamed (Mark 8:38)

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on January, 22, 2021

Not Ashamed (Mark 8:38)

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

Jesus’ Words

Many of us have not faced serious oppression for our faith or its pernicious threat until recently. Due to censorship, Christians are wondering how far will this go. We don’t know! Jesus’ words don’t bring the comfort that we might expect. Jesus’ didn’t say, “I’ll protect you. Nothing will happen to you.”

Instead, Jesus boldly challenged us to possess a radical faith. These forms of persecution are by no means new. I have traveled and worked with Christian leaders around the world. This outbreak against Christians happened in India when the government allowed a radical group burn down Christian businesses and churches in the state of Orissa (now called Odisha) during 2007-2008. At night, the townspeople walked to attend the outside meetings.

The remaining Christians were rounded up in numerous refugee camps. I know this so well because the Lord had me teach hundreds of pastors and evangelists there just before it happened. The Lord of Lords, however, did allow physical molestation and destruction of Christian property.

Jesus knew what Christians, in different places and times, would face. Although at times He spares His people from such pain, at other times He doesn’t. We all need to be prepared.

So what spurred Jesus’ challenging words?

Jesus’ prediction of His death (Mark 8:31-32)

“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And He was stating the matter plainly” (Mark 8:31-32).

Jesus’ frank statement caught Peter and the disciples off guard. Jesus is the King, the Lord. How could this happen? Why would God allow such an event to take place—the death of the Son of God? It’s easier for us to look back at this grand redemptive scheme than it was for the disciples to look forward to it. They couldn’t understand the meaning of His words nor their implications. But this doesn’t matter. They had to trust Jesus and be willing to follow His path.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)

Jesus clearly outlined the possible costs to follow Him. Not all believers would face this, but many do. It’s after this, in verse 38, that Jesus speaks about the need of not being ashamed of Him or His words. Although much more could be said of the verses above or even the whole of verse 38, we will focus on this concept of not being ashamed.

Jesus and His Words

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

Jesus was not creating alarm but disarming the fear that often arises with persecution. His call asks us not to be ashamed. We are not to deny or otherwise think they are inferior. This is not because our viewpoints made Jesus or His words great but because they are great, in and of themselves.

As I meditated on this, I resolved that I would follow Jesus no matter what I faced. After all, is it not Jesus who died for me? Is it not He who gave His life for me? Is not the Lord more to me than all the world? I cannot and will not deny Him.

Do you see the progression of thought that needs to take place in our minds and wills? “I know I should not deny Him” to “I will not deny Him.”

Like yourselves, I wrestle with this. How can I know I won’t deny Him? What if this or that happens? Am I strong enough? Those all are excellent questions, but in the end, it’s a matter of trust and commitment. We trust Him to help us be true to our promise: “Who are protected by the power of God through faith…” (1 Peter 1:5).

But what if you aren’t willing? Well, that is a dangerous viewpoint. At times we do not treasure Jesus and overvalue the world. Now is the time to observe His greatness and strengthen our commitment before the oppression picks up. We need to stare into Jesus’ words until they wake us up, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Our choice does matter and begs a firm commitment to the One who dramatically loved us.

All of Jesus’ Words

We are not to be ashamed of Jesus or His words. This term partly hints at the necessary obedience to the Lord’s words. You wish you had Jesus by your side at these times (so do I), but He isn’t visibly there. But His words are. His words will have us do things that others might dislike. We are not to be ashamed to do them.

It’s helpful to identify the progression of our thoughts here. We need to go from “knowing His Word is true” to “being committed to following His Word no matter the cost, even to death.” This kind of thought analysis helps us snuff out any weakness, but this firming up of our decisions makes us spiritually stronger.

Gaining Strength

I’m not going out of my way to suffer for Jesus and His words, but I’m willing to suffer if necessary. I have had to go through this process numerous times in my mind, especially when traveling in dangerous places. I need to do it now again because “freedom of religion” appears to have been ripped out of my country’s heart. I hope and pray I am wrong.

These strenuous situations allow me the opportunity to clarify my own life commitment further. It helps me again to focus on my chief delight in this world—Jesus. The world’s flashing images far too quickly blur that vision. I gladly forfeit what I cannot keep to forever enjoy fellowship with Him.

Don’t be scared of thinking this through. Jesus calls each of us to trust Him how He oversees the tough times of testing so that we can peaceably affirm Him before unjust courts, wild mobs, and those that have betrayed Him (Psalm 101:3). Clear commitments keep us far from compromise.

Compromise is dangerous as it leads us into a series of subtle micro-decisions leading to a place we don’t want to be. On the other hand, Jesus’ challenge calls for our bold responses early on so that we find protection from the enemy’s pernicious attacks.

And yes, we need to think about what is most valuable to us.
These are torturous thoughts that should never have to be, but the enemy is truly vile and willing to bribe and strip away anything we value. That is why we step beyond all of the confusion of our circumstances and openly state to ourselves and to others that we are willing to go the whole way, as necessary.

  • Is Jesus more valuable than your business?
  • Is Jesus more valuable than an assured income?
  • Is Jesus more valuable than your ministry?
  • Is Jesus and His words more beneficial than staying alive?
  • Is Jesus more important—hope it never comes to this—than seeing your family alive?

Clear commitments keep us far from compromise.

We are not the extremists but learning how to respond to those attempting to destroy our lives rightly! We are not deluded but rather have thought through what is most valuable to our lives.

Some believers have been brought up with a superficial faith that seems to ask for nothing but assents to central doctrines, whether they understand them or not. However, Jesus points to the need for deep faith in Him, which esteems His kingdom’s importance over other things. Jesus is not just a comfort factor but the Savior of the world. Whose side are you on?

 God spiritually prepared His people in Orissa for such persecution.

Still Having Doubts?

Don’t be one who has given up all to find the great pearl (Mat 13:46), only then to forsake it to find fleeting relief. Jesus is watching us as to whether we are ashamed of Him and His words.

Listen to Jesus’ words to the seven churches in Revelation, persistently telling us the necessity of this mindset.
After addressing the churches, each facing different circumstances, the church—all believers, are equally called to overcome, persevere, and not be ashamed of Christ.

  • He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7).
  • To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God” (Rev 2:11).
  • To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (Rev 2:17).
  • He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (Rev 2:26).
  • He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life…” (Rev 3:5).
  • He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God…” (Rev 3:12).
  • He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev 3:21).

After Paul was stoned and left for dead, he got up, preached the Gospel, announcing the necessity to follow the Lord.

21 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” 23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:21-23).

And so Jesus, John, Paul, and the other disciples told us that the pathway into the kingdom of heaven might lead us through times of suffering and persecution for our faith.

Peter unapologetically stated, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials…” (1 Peter 1:6). The rejoicing comes from the opportunity to focus on the glorious work of Jesus Christ and the eternal fellowship with Him. The more we deliberate on the future, the more inferior and less consequential are the sufferings on earth. Things might be unfair and unjust, but so they were for Jesus.

My Commitment

Jesus made His commitment to suffer and die for you. Now, He asks us to be willing to give up all for Him in light of the possible persecution. Don’t be ashamed of Him or what He asks of you. Be proud that you can be like Jesus, who treasured His Father’s will over His immediate desires.

Because of my web ministry, I see that all I worked for might go up “in smoke” if God’s enemies turn off access to my website. However, I must not compromise. The decision not to compromise goes back to the need to clarify my commitment to value my love for Him over the many things I have written for Him. “Love not the world.”

But not all believers are persecuted; some are spared. But this decision to ready ourselves for the worse remains vital for all believers. As we clarify our commitment to Him and His truth, we will be the firmer and bolder in this world.

Who knows? Maybe because of your boldness, other believers will gain spiritual strength from you, and unbelievers see their foolishness and come to know Him, attaining the greatest treasure of all—living in the love of the Lord.

Knowledge needs to proceed to commitment

Discussion Questions

  1. What is more valuable to you: your life or your soul? Why?
  2. Why are Jesus’ words of not being ashamed of Him and His words so difficult for us to carry out?
  3. What happens to those who compromise?
  4. Have you ever compromised? What did you give up? What did you try to save? Was it worth it?
  5. Have you been able to move ahead from knowing the importance of not being ashamed to deciding that this is what you will do? Explain. What is the hardest part for you?
  6. While reflecting upon your life and Jesus’ death, rehearse the wonderful value of Jesus above all these things.

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