26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
1901 ASV Translation:
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
I. The Issues of Shame.
A. First, the meaning of "shame".
1. The word is intensified by the addition of a preposition as a prefix. The implication of such intensification is that Jesus is not addressing a basic, lest I say "superficial", concept. The intensification indicates some kind of determination (perhaps illustrated by Peter's denial of his association with Jesus "with curses" -- a bit more dramatic than a simple denial). Since there is little doubt that Peter "denied" Jesus but will not be "denied" when Jesus comes in His glory, Jesus' meaning is almost forced to be a more "settled" shame than what happens when a temporary weakness of faith asserts itself.
2. The use of the word in the New Testament is illuminating.
a. It is actually used of God the Father (Hebrews 11:16) and God the Son (Hebrews 2:11). Thus, we must understand its meaning in this light, even if both uses turn out to be anthropomorphisms.
b. 2 Timothy 1:8 places this "shame" issue in contradistinction to "partaking of suffering". This strongly implies that "shame" has a "refusal factor" built into its essence. If one is "ashamed", he/she will refuse to participate in the behavior considered to be "shameful".
c. 2 Timothy 1:12 places this "shame" issue in contradistinction to "knowing Whom/what one has believed" and being sure that, in the end, one will be proven to have been correct in his/her convictions and actions. Romans 6:21 as much as declares this when it says that those behaviors that bring death into one's experience are behaviors of which one is, and should be, "ashamed". What this boils down to, then, is this: "shame" is what is experienced when one "thinks" that his/her behavior is going to prove to lead to disaster and a lack of "shame" is what one experiences when he/she knows that, in the end, one will be vindicated in both "faith" and "act" [Note Romans 1:16 and the link between "shame" and "power"].
d. From these uses we can conclude that "shame" is what is "felt" when one's confidence is proven to be misplaced. It is not so much that "embarrassed feeling" one may have when something happens that humiliates (such as having a seriously private matter suddenly broadcast to sundry and all). Rather, it is that sense that what one has done is going to prove to lead to a personal disaster. At this point, however, we must realize that the definition of "disaster" must be rooted in biblical revelation. Jesus has already addressed this in our text: "gaining the whole world" is "believed" by many to be the epitome of the definition of success so that no one who is pursuing that is going to be "ashamed" until that definition is shown to be faulty; yet Jesus declared that such action would result in one's destruction in terms of heavy loss. Thus, the "shame" does not settle in until the result is indisputable. This connection to our text is more deeply developed with Jesus' warning of the coming reciprocity.
B. Second, the reciprocity reality.
1. In the final analysis, "shame" is an eschatalogical issue and Jesus lays it out with His declaration of reciprocity.
2. In the long run, it will not be a matter of "shame" if human beings rejected one, or were the intentional instruments of humiliation: the real issue is whether God is going to show one to have been totally off base, or walking within His will. Those who "foam out their shame" (Jude13) in the present time are actually glorying in beliefs and actions of extreme wickedness, but those beliefs and actions will be revealed by the revealing God to have been what they are: extreme wickedness. By the same token, Jesus "despised the shame of the Cross" (Hebrews 12:2) because He knew that God did not share man's perspective of it.
C. Third, the theology of Jesus' warning.
1. This is not a matter that addresses "justification". One can "believe unto justification" without possessing the courage that a greater faith would have imparted.
2. Jesus is not addressing the essential Gospel in terms of eternal deliverance from Wrath; He is addressing His summons to discipleship and its necessary corollary of identification with Him. One can hardly be a "disciple" of Jesus whose task is to "proclaim" His message while refusing to be associated with Him in public.
a. John warned his readers that if they refrained from abiding in Christ, they would be "ashamed" before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28). This warning was to justified people; thus, the issue is not "salvation from Wrath", but "salvation from shame" at His coming.
b. Jesus spoke all of His words in the light of Total Theology, of which man has only a partial grasp. He knew the distinction between "faith in Him" as the Redeemer and "faith in His coming Replacement" -- the Spirit of Truth, the Other Comforter -- and the issues involved in that distinction.
3. The facts are these: God responds to even faith "as a grain of mustard seed" when it comes to the issue of "justification", but "discipleship" requires more faith than that and "shame" will be the lot of those of us whose works are burned at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Thus, when Jesus reveals how "ashamed of Him" we were in the production of our works at His Judgment Seat, He will also reveal how "ashamed of us" He is because of our carnal living.
II. The Issue of the Text.
A. Jesus declares His reciprocity of being "ashamed" in the light of a clear issue: "glory".
1. This means that He will refuse to extend "glory" to those who refused to be identified with Him.
2. This "extension of glory" is not a matter of deliverance from Wrath, but a matter of inclusion in the "glory" of Himself, His Father, and that of the Holy Angels.
B. The "clear and present danger" in Jesus' warning is this: to the degree that believers allow their distaste for being identified with Jesus in this world to govern their choices, to that degree Jesus will allow His distaste for selfishness to govern His choices in regard to the distribution of "glory" to His people.
III. The Larger Issues.
A. Jesus was calling for "disciples".
B. He set forth the requirements in a three-fold statement: self-denial, daily cross bearing, and active following.
C. He then addressed the most likely "excuses": one's fear of losing his "soul"; one's aggressive pursuit of the world's goods; and one's reluctance to be identified with Jesus in this world.
D. The two sets of three seem to correlate in reverse order: self-denial seems to be tied to one's refusal to be completely identified with Jesus; one's daily cross-bearing seems to be tied to the pursuit of this world's goods; and one's "following" seems to be tied to the issue of being fearful of losing one's soul.