Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:2
We’ve looked at the word “endured” in Hebrews 12:2 and have seen what it meant for Jesus to endure the Cross for you and me. But Jesus didn’t just endure it — He actually despised the shame of it. Today I want us to look at the words “despise” and “shame” in the original Greek language so that we can better understand exactly how Jesus felt when He was physically hanging on that Cross.
The word “despised” is a translation of the Greek word kataphroneo, which is a compound of the words kata and phroneo. On their own, the word kata means down, and the word phroneo means to think. However, when these two words are compounded, the new word means to look down upon, think poorly of, despise, abhor, detest, disdain, or loathe. This carries the ideas of contempt, aversion, or something so repulsive that one is almost unable to stomach the idea of it. It is something that is simply repelling, revolting, and disgusting. Thus, the Greek word kataphroneo used in Hebrews 12:2 emphatically lets us know that Jesus looked down upon the Cross with repugnance. He literally “despised” it.
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The word “shame” is the Greek word aischune, which describes something that is base, ugly, revolting, and grotesque. By using this word, the writer of Hebrews was telling us that Jesus’ experience on the Cross as He hung naked and broken in full view of the world was disgraceful, deplorable, despicable, and reprehensible. Paintings and sculptures of the Crucifixion always portray Jesus with a towel wrapped around His waist, but this was simply not the case. Romans were not so kind as to cover the male anatomy — Jesus was stripped of all clothing and hung naked before the jeering crowd. For a Jew who respected the human body as something made in the holy image of God and who abhorred the naked idols of paganism, this indignity was utterly repugnant and embarrassing.
Imagine if you were beaten to a pulp and then hung physically naked in front of your friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances. How would you feel? According to the Greek word aischune used in Hebrews 12:2, the Lord Jesus felt a deep sense of “shame” and “embarrassment” in that horrific moment.
Jesus paid the price for sin, for sickness and disease, for mental suffering, and for shame. Just as Jesus endured the scourging to procure our physical healing (see Isaiah 53:5), He literally took our shame upon Himself to pay the price for any humiliation that would ever try to poison our lives. As my wife Denise writes in her book, Redeemed From Shame:
Oh, how God wants us to experience His great love for us every moment of our lives! Because of His suffering on the Cross, He paid the ultimate price for us to experience His loving presence. This is possible not by any work of righteousness that we have done, but by trusting in what He has done.
So don’t listen to the lies of the devil about your past. Don’t let him convince you to give up. Instead, seek God’s face, and listen to the loving words of truth from God’s Spirit that are there for you. Jesus’ flesh was not ripped apart in vain. It was for your deliverance and freedom to become the person God planned for you to be!
Jesus took all your shame and fear so you wouldn’t have to be tormented by its wicked hold. In exchange, He freely offered you His glory and healing power. All you have to do is receive by faith what He has already given you. You are free from the bondage of shame in Him. Now it’s time to live free in Jesus’ Name!1
Have you ever felt publicly humiliated? Have you ever been ashamed because of something you’ve been through or because of something someone said? Have you felt the discomfort, pain, and even torture of embarrassment and humiliation?
If you’ve experienced these feelings, take comfort in the fact that Jesus felt them too. He took those emotions upon Himself as part of His sacrificial work on the Cross so that you and I could be set free. We don’t have to be encumbered with feelings of shame for the rest of our lives. He literally took our shame so we could be free from it!
Regardless of what has happened in your past that might have made you feel embarrassed or ridiculed, know that Jesus took your shame upon Himself and set you free. Your freedom from shame and humiliation was included in His work on the Cross, and you never have to be tormented with those hellish thoughts again — because of Jesus!
1 Denise Renner, Redeemed From Shame (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, 2004), p.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, how can I ever begin to thank You for Your great plan of Redemption? Jesus not only became sin for me, He also bore for me the humiliation and pain of it in ways far deeper than anything I could ever imagine. I am overcome with gratitude to know that Jesus endured such unspeakable horror so I could know Your perfect love and be set me free from the torment of fear and shame. Holy Spirit, teach me how to walk in the reality of this freedom and love so that I will cause others to know the power made available through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that never again will I allow myself to wallow in self-pity because of the pain I feel, the loss I’ve endured, or the abuse I’ve experienced. Jesus knows exactly how it feels to be humiliated and shamefully treated in the most degrading ways. Because Jesus is personally acquainted with such pain and such mental and emotional anguish, He is able to fully sympathize with all my feelings. Therefore, with confidence I come boldly before His throne of grace to receive His help in just the way I need it most!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Shame is a horrible spiritual force that causes a person to be embarrassed of who they are. Have you ever felt this negative power? Did you know that Jesus paid for your shame as a part of His redemptive work on the Cross?
- If you walked free of shame and embarrassment and never returned to it, how would that freedom affect your life? What would life be like if you never had to deal with those negative emotions?
- Now that you know that Christ paid the price for your shame, can you think of anyone you need to share this message with so he or she, too, can be freed from the power of shame?