This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
We’ll begin again this session by repeating or affirming out loud Hebrews 10:14:
“For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
We’re talking about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross; one perfect, complete, all sufficient sacrifice that covered the needs of every human being for time and for eternity. I’ve been unfolding to you the truth, which I believe God made known to me many years ago and which has had a life changing effect in me, that the essence of the sacrifice was an exchange in which all the evil due to us came upon Jesus that all the good due to Jesus might be offered to us. This we cannot earn; it’s by grace. And grace is received only one way, by what? Faith, that’s right. When the scripture says “by grace you have been saved through faith,” that covers everything that Jesus did for us on the cross. It is all salvation. It’s all of grace and it’s all by faith.
I’ve dealt with a number of aspects of the exchange. Let’s see if we can recapitulate them here this morning using our appropriate hands. The left hand for the evil, the right hand for the good. The first one was:
Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.
Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.
Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.
Jesus died our death that we might share His life.
Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.
Of whom? Abraham. How much did God bless Abraham? In all things, that’s right.
Let me just mention, in case some of you haven’t seen it, there is a little book of mine, two weeks of my radio teaching, called From Curse to Blessing. This deals with the theme that we just touched on in our last session much more fully, if you’re interested. Interestingly enough, my radio program is heard on about sixty-some stations in America, apart from all the stations around the earth. And, the first time this was broadcast for two weeks, we offered to listeners who felt they needed it the transcript free. Six thousand people wrote in for the transcript. That gives you some idea of how this touches people where their need is.
Okay. We’re going to go on with the exchange and now we’re going to turn to 2 Corinthians 8:9. If there are some theologians here this morning, we’re going to check out your theology. I’m going to read it and then I’m going to ask you to tell me the two aspects of the exchange. All right? 2 Corinthians 8:9:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...”
Notice it’s grace. What’s true about grace? It cannot be earned. It’s receive by faith.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.”
What is the exchange, what is the bad thing? Poverty. How many of you agree that poverty is a bad thing? I say that because in certain sections of the church it’s been taught that in order to be holy you need to be poor. And there’s a certain element of truth in that but it’s been carried to ridiculous extremes. As far as I’m concerned, and I’ve traveled much of the earth and seen poverty in many different nations, for me, poverty is a curse.
So what’s the alternative to poverty? Riches. Now, for various reasons, partly because of various forms of teaching that have gone forth in the last two or three decades, I prefer to say abundance. I don’t really believe that it’s the mark of spirituality that every Christian should drive a Cadillac or Mercedes. Personally, that doesn’t really impress me. Let me say that it so happens in Israel we do drive a Mercedes, so I’m not saying that through lack of anything but just because I don’t believe it’s an accurate standard of spirituality. But I do believe that God offers us abundance. And I would define abundance as having enough for your own needs and something over to give to others. I believe that is the level of God’s provision.
Now, some of you are going to have to have a mental battle to receive this truth. If you’re like me, and I wasn’t very religious but I was compelled to attend church in Britain eight times a week for ten years while I was at school, I formed the impression that Christians had better expect to be poor and miserable. And many of you, especially if you’re from Europe, have something of the same background. You’re going to have to ask God to release your mind from a kind of captivity of traditional thinking.
So, Jesus on the cross took our poverty that we might have, let’s say, God’s abundance. That was the exchange. Now, if you turn to the great chapter on blessings and curses, which is Deuteronomy 28, and look in the list of curses in verses 47 and 48, you’ll find these. It says in verse 45:
“Moreover, all these curses shall come upon you...”
And then in verses 47 and 48 it says:
“Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart for the abundance of all things...”
Now, that’s God’s will. That’s what God wants. But when we fail to do it through unbelief and disobedience, then God says:
“...therefore, you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of all things.”
Take those four things: hunger, thirst, nakedness and need of all things. Put them together and what do you have? Absolute poverty. You cannot have greater poverty than that.
Let me share with you a revelation that came to me many years ago when I was in New Zealand. My first wife and I had been invited there and they told us they would cover all our expenses. When we arrived they didn’t have the money to pay our fares. So they said you’ve got to preach for an offering. I prepared my outline, it’s not the first time I preached on that, and I began to give them the promises of blessing, et cetera. But as I was preaching and speaking about these verses, the curse and the blessing, the Holy Spirit was giving me a mental picture of Jesus on the cross. He showed me that this curse was totally fulfilled in Jesus. It was exhausted. He was hungry, He hadn’t eaten for twenty-four hours. He was thirsty. One of the last things He said was, “I thirst.” He was naked, they’d taken all His clothes from Him. And He was in need of everything. He had precisely nothing when He died. He was buried in a borrowed robe and in a borrowed tomb. And as I was speaking that, the truth came to me that Jesus exhausted the poverty curse on the cross.
Now, Jesus was not poor. Before He went to the cross He just didn’t carry a lot of cash. But He always had what He needed. And any man who can feed 5,000 men plus women and children on the spot is not poor. My little comment on that in the light of contemporary culture is He just carried His Father’s credit card and it was honored everywhere.
So, to suggest that Jesus was poor before He went to the cross is misleading. But on the cross because He took our curse, which we saw yesterday, He also endured the poverty curse. He exhausted it. There’s nothing left of the poverty curse. After you’ve been hungry, thirsty, naked and in need of all things, you can’t be more poor than that.
I relate the consequence. This revelation somehow broke through. There was a comparatively small number of people, maybe three or four hundred. They took up such an offering, it covered every need and every expense for the rest of our time and our journey to and fro. And they weren’t particularly wealthy people. But it was just a spirit of revelation came.
And that’s what I’m trying to share with you in this session, this revelation that on the cross Jesus exhausted the poverty curse that we might have abundance.
Now, turn back to the New Testament to 2 Corinthians 9:8. You’ve been in 2 Corinthians 8:9, now go to 2 Corinthians 9:8 which is the opposite side of it.
“And God is able...”
How many of you believe God is able? I’m sure we all believe that.
“God is able to make all grace abound towards you that you always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
What is that? It’s grace, isn’t it? We don’t earn it, we receive it by faith on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross. That is an astonishing verse. It doesn’t fully come out in the English translation but in the Greek the word “all” is used five times and the word “abound” twice in one short verse. I’m going to ask my wife to come forward for a moment, I think she was expecting that though I didn’t warn her. This is our personal basis for the financial needs of our ministry, which are vast. This is what we stand on. This is what we affirm. I want to impress upon you the importance of affirmation, proclamation, confession. Say it and keep on saying it. So, here we are, this is the way we say it. You see, we take it and make it personal. Paul says you, we say we.
“God is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
Would you like to say that? If you can believe it and say it, it will start something in your life. You just don’t say it once, you have to maintain a good confession. Don’t forget it when you move out of here. We’ll say it phrase by phrase, you say it after us. Okay? Not with us but after us. And if you believe the Bible, you believe this. Don’t analyze this and that, just say I believe the Bible, this is in the Bible, I believe it. All right. After us, not with us.
“God is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
Now, if you really believe that, what do you do next? “Thank you, Lord.” See, if you don’t say thank you, you’re either a very ungrateful person or you don’t believe it, there’s no other alternative. Cultivate the habit of saying thank you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:
“In everything give thanks...”
Now, let me point out to you I fear that some of this truth has been abused in some quarters for the carnal gratification and self-indulgence of people who ought to know better. Nevertheless, it’s still true.
Let me offer you a thought about abundance. There’s three levels. Insufficiency, sufficiency and abundance. Insufficiency means you don’t have enough for what you need. Let’s say you’re a housewife and you need $80 worth of groceries. I’m not sure whether $80 buys anything today but anyhow. And you’ve got $75, you are shopping out of what? Insufficiency. Suppose you have $80, you are shopping out of sufficiency. But suppose you have $100, you are shopping out of abundance. Abundance comes from a Latin word, it means “a wave that flows over.” So, you should be a person who has a wave in your from God that flows over.
Now why does God want all His children to have abundance? Turn to Acts 20:35. You see, I think of those who may be called to the ministry. I was a pastor in my native land of Britain for eight years. This was a long while ago and Britain is beginning to change in a wonderful way. But the motto of the church in those days about ministers was, “Lord, you keep him humble and we’ll keep him poor.” And they certainly kept their part of the bargain! I sometimes meet ministers who’ve received the left foot of fellowship out of their particular denomination. If it’s for the sake of the Lord I say, “Please don’t worry. God is much more generous than most church boards.”
So, here’s Acts 20:35, Paul says:
“I’ve shown you in every way [speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus] by laboring like this that you must support the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Which is more blessed? Listen, I’m telling you, we’re not taking up an offering in the next ten minutes, you can say it, it will not be used in evidence against you. All right.
Now, does God want some of His children to be without the greater blessing? I don’t believe that. He has no favorites. So why has God provided abundance? That we may not merely receive but also give and thus receive the greater blessing. It doesn’t follow we all give a lot but giving something is a very important part of the Christian life. In fact, God said of His people Israel in the Old Testament in the book of Exodus, “No one shall appear before me empty-handed.” The book of Psalms says “bring an offering and come into His courts.” Don’t go without something.
This probably may end up in Britain one day so I have to be careful what I say. I was in Britain a little while back and I said, “Please, don’t tip God.” All right. God doesn’t need your tips. When the offering comes around you don’t just reach into your pocket, find the smallest thing you can and put it in. That is not honoring God. You don’t have to give. But if you give, give in a way that honors God. Give God a little bit more than you’d give to the boy that parks your car in the parking lot. All right? You look a little somber. To me it is grievous to see people tipping God.
Remember, giving is part of worship. If we can’t give with worship we ought not to give at all. I really don’t like the idea of passing the whatever it is, the basket or the bucket. I prefer to see God’s people come forward, marching up to the front and bringing their offering. I spent five years in east Africa and I’ll tell you, when God touches the African heart they love to give. Scripture says God loves a hilarious giver. I’ve seen some hilarious givers. Most of them didn’t have money so they’d come up with some coffee beans on their head, as every woman carries things. They’d go back again, God would touch them again, they’d come up with some corn cobs. Go back again and God would really touch them and they would come up with a live chicken and bring that. See? But they were hilarious. Some of you have maybe never tasted the hilariousness of giving.
But now, before we close this session, I want to add a P.S., a word of caution. I’ve got it written here, there is a higher order of riches. If all your wealth consists in your house, your swimming pool, your Cadillac, your cottage by the lake, and all the rest, remember one thing. When you die you won’t take anything with you. You’ll step out into eternity a naked soul. So there is a higher order of riches and it’s called enduring riches.
Turn to Proverbs 8:18 for a moment. This is wisdom speaking. It’s such a beautiful passage I’d love to read it all but I’ll just read a little from verse 17 of Proverbs 8.
“I love those who love me...”
Actually, this is the Lord Jesus speaking because He’s the wisdom of God. You understand? It’s wisdom personified in Jesus.
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness.”
Note that word “enduring.” You see, everything that you have in this world is not enduring. You cannot take it with you. So what is enduring riches? Well, there are many answers. First of all, whatever you give to the kingdom of God, Jesus said in the next world you’ll receive a hundredfold, which is ten thousand percent. That’s a good rate of interest. So what we give out of our substance to the Lord becomes in the next world enduring riches.
And then Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3 there are two ways we can serve God on this earth. 1 Corinthians 3:11. He says:
“No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw; each one’s work will become manifest: for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned; he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved; yet so is through fire.”
I think the New International Version says “as one escaping through the flame.” So there’s two kinds of service we can offer the Lord. One is large in quantity but low in value: wood, hay, straw. The other is gold, silver and precious stones. Which abides? Which stands the fire? The gold, silver and precious stones. If you’re called to the ministry, let me suggest to you that you take care that what you are laying up is not vast quantities of wood, hay and straw, because there’s going to come a fire that will consume it in an instant. But enduring riches is the lives that we bless with the truth of God’s word with the power of the Holy Spirit that produces Christian character. We build men and women of God. And they’re not really usually in such large quantities. There’s a terrible tendency, I think especially in the United States, to focus on numbers. How many members do we have? A better question to ask is how many disciples do we have? Jesus never told us to get church members. He said make disciples.
What I’ve observed in the course of a fairly long life in the Lord’s service is if you make disciples, you won’t start with a large number but they’ll be self reproducing. In the long run you’ll end up with a lot and it will be quality, not quantity.
So, let me say that when we talk about abundance it’s not always material abundance that God blesses us with. I’ll give you two scriptures just to close with. Proverbs 13:7:
“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing. And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”
So there are those who deliberately turn away from the material wealth of this world, make themselves poor, but in the spiritual realm they have great riches. And I think Paul was one of those. Let’s just read his testimony for a moment, as we close, in 2 Corinthians 6. It’s a tremendous sentence. In verse 4 he says:
“In all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God...”
And he gives a long list, most of which don’t appear in Bible college curriculums. Like patience, tribulations, needs, distresses, strifes, imprisonments, tumult, labors, sleeplessness, fasting. You don’t find that most Bible colleges train people in those areas.
And then he goes on in all the other ways in which they have approved themselves as ministers of God, and he comes to verse 9:
“As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
So, poverty is a curse. God’s provision is abundance. But don’t focus merely on the material because when you die, that will be the end of that. There is a greater riches which comes to those whose priorities are right.
Part 10 – Shame vs. Glory
It’s good for all of us, myself included, if we recapitulate in the correct order, if we can do so, the various aspects of the exchange. Believe me, I have to exercise my concentration to do this right. If I do it wrong, I’m not embarrassed so don’t you be embarrassed either. First of all,
Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.
He was wounded that we might be healed.
He was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.
He died our death that we might share His life.
He was made a curse that we might receive the blessings.
He endured our poverty that we might share His abundance.
Now we’re going to go into the area of emotional healing, which is probably very relevant for some of you here. But before we do that I want Ruth to come forward again. We’re going to introduce you to a new affirmation, one that we make regularly. This is not directly a quotation of scripture, this is our affirmation of the fact that we have passed out from under the curse and entered into the blessing of Abraham. And I suppose two days never pass that we don’t make this affirmation. I’ll tell you, we need it.
“Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we have passed out from under the curse and entered into the blessing of Abraham whom God blessed in all things.”
Would you like to say that? All right. Don’t try to say it with us, we’ll say it phrase by phrase.
“Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we have passed out from under the curse and entered into the blessing of Abraham whom God blessed in all things.”
Now if you really believe it, what do you do next? “Thank you, Lord.” All right, God bless you.
Now we’re coming to two aspects of the exchange which provide emotional healing. And we’re going to deal with two of the commonest and deepest emotional wounds that humanity suffers.
The one we’re going to deal with now is shame. What’s the opposite of shame? Well, it could be various but glory is as good as you can find. What I’m going to teach you is that Jesus on the cross endured our shame that we in turn might share His glory.
Now in the end of this session I’ll deal with some of the causes of shame in people today. I’ve learned in many years of counseling and ministry it’s one of the commonest emotional problems of God’s people. And the problem is they’re ashamed to let people know they have the problem, you see? So in a sense, it shuts you up in a prison.
Let’s turn, as a scriptural basis, to Hebrews 2:10.
“For it was fitting for him [that’s God the Father], for whom are all things, and by whom are all things [that’s God the Father], in bringing many sons to glory [that’s you and me], to make the author of their salvation [Who’s that? Jesus.] perfect through sufferings.”
So God permitted Jesus to endure those sufferings that we might come into His fullness. But notice in the middle of verse 10 God’s purpose was to bring many sons to glory. We used to have people that said, “I’m glory bound.” Not many people say that these days. But that’s the truth if you’re a believing child of God; you are bound for glory. On the cross Jesus endured your shame that you might share His glory.
Hebrews also brings out the enduring of the shame. In Hebrews 12:2, which is the middle of a sentence—we won’t go into the beginning, familiar words, I’m sure, to many of you, Hebrews 12:2:
“...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith [or the originator and perfecter of our faith]...”
Let me encourage you with that. Whatever Jesus begins, He’s going to complete. So if He started in you, He’s going to complete it. That’s His faithfulness, it’s not our cleverness.
“...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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
So on the cross Jesus endured shame. But He didn’t let it deter Him, He considered it absolutely not worthy of turning Him away from His purpose because of the joy that was set before Him. What was the joy that was set before Him? Bringing many sons to glory. So, in order to bring you and me and millions and millions of others like us to glory, on the cross He endured the shame.
You see, there is no more shameful form of death than crucifixion. It’s shameful because it’s the lowest form for the most debased criminals and it’s shameful because of the very way in which things happen. Because, on the cross it’s very clearly stated they took all Jesus’ clothing away from Him. And He hung there naked before the eyes of the people for something like three hours or more. And people walked past and made fun of Him. How would you feel in that situation? What would you feel? Tell me in one word. Shame, that’s right. So He endured the shame. Because He saw that through it He could bring us to glory.
Many years ago I got involved in helping two Jewish ladies who had escaped from Soviet Russia and, in a sense, cast themselves on our mercy—that was my first wife and I. I went to a lot of pain and trouble to help them, and by the grace of God I was ultimately able to help them. But I was complaining to myself as I was actually toiling up a hill in Haifa, a steep hill on a hot day and I was thinking this was an awful lot to go through for these two ladies. And, they were always totally grateful. God gave me this verse which I’d like to share with you. I didn’t know where it was but the words came to me and I found them. 2 Timothy 2:10:
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect [that’s God’s chosen ones], that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
And I saw in that experience that, so far from being in the same position as Jesus on the cross, I was enduring just a very little inconvenience but the purpose was to help God’s chosen ones enter into the salvation with eternal glory.
I think we need to devote more time to thinking on that word glory. Because that’s our destination. If there’s a price to pay, believe me, it’s worth it. So you may be called upon sometime to give up your convenience, your comfort. I say those are the two idols of modern America: convenience and comfort. American Christians will do anything until it affects their convenience and their comfort. Then their commitment begins to wither. But if you could get a vision of what’s going to come out of your inconvenience and your sacrifice, one day you’re going to see people in glory who are there because of what you did. That was the motivation of Jesus. He didn’t do it for Himself but He did it to bring many sons to glory.
Now, we go back to Isaiah 53 which is, of course, the great atonement chapter, and let us look at the emphasis there on how shameful the experience of Jesus was. Isaiah 53:3:
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows [but the real meaning is a man of pains], and acquainted with sickness; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him, he was despised and we did not esteem him.”
I understand that to mean that we couldn’t bear to look at Him, the sight was so horrible. You remember it said in the NIV of the previous chapter that He lost even the form of a human being. Not merely was He exposed naked but all this wounds, bruises, putrefying sores were exposed to the view of those who hated Him, those who were responsible for His crucifixion and all those who passed by idly.
In Psalm 69 there’s a further picture of this. Let me say to you that Psalm 69 is what we have learned to call a Messianic psalm. Let me give you a little extra here for which there is no extra charge. Let me say something about Messianic prophecy or Messianic psalms. What we mean by that is they are psalms or prophecies which reveal what’s going to happen to the Messiah, not to the person who spoke the words or wrote the words. You’ve turned to Psalm 69, keep your finger there and turn to 1 Peter 1:10–11, where Peter is talking about the prophets of the Old Testament. He says:
“Of this salvation [that we enjoy] the prophets [of the Old Testament] having inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you: searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating, when he testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that would follow.”
Notice the theme of glory once again. You see, put yourself in the position of David or Isaiah. They found themselves saying in the first person things about themselves that never happened to them. And they must have thought, “Why am I saying that? Whatever is that about?” Peter says it was revealed to them that what they were saying was not about themselves but about the Messiah who was to come. And it was the Spirit of the Messiah in them that was making these statements in the first person, although they didn’t apply to the person who said them. Is that clear? Have I communicated that?
So, one of the great Messianic psalms is Psalm 69. And if you look briefly at it you’ll find there are four verses at least in it which are specifically applied in the New Testament to Jesus.
Let me offer another comment. The New Testament really gives us very little subjective picture of what Jesus endured on the cross. In fact, you couldn’t say it more shortly because it says “they crucified him”. That’s all they say. But, if you turn back to the Old Testament, to the psalms and the prophets, there’s a wonderful unfolding revelation of what went on inside Jesus. For instance, just to look at this, if you begin in Psalm 69:1:
“Save me, O God, for the waters have come to my neck [the Hebrew says ‘to my soul’], I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing.”
That’s something David probably went through in a measure but it’s fulfilled in Jesus on the cross. There He was sinking into the depth. Then we get these four verses, verse 4:
“Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head...”
Jesus quoted that about Himself. It said that this must be fulfilled, they hated Me without a cause. Verse 8:
“I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children...”
You remember Jesus’ own brothers rejected Him. Verse 9:
“...because the zeal of your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
That’s quoted about Him in John 2. And verse 21:
“They gave me also gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
Fulfilled in Jesus on the cross. Now, how would you have felt—this is a psalm of David—if you heard yourself saying those words? “They gave me vinegar to drink.” It never happened to David. He would have been puzzled. But the answer that comes from God is it was the Spirit of the Messiah in David speaking in the first person of two things: the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow.
So when we look at Psalm 69:7, we just see one further aspect of what Jesus endured on the cross.
“Because for your sake I have borne reproach, shame has covered my face.”
So there you understand a little of what Jesus endured on the cross. “Shame has covered my face.” I don’t know whether you’ve ever noticed, but people who suffer from shame, they find it hard to look you in the face. Shame has covered my face.
And then we look at the actual description of the crucifixion in Matthew 27:35–36.
“Then they crucified him...”
I always marvel at the restraint of the gospel writers, that’s all they said, they crucified Him. They didn’t give us a lot of picture of blood or groans. Any modern writer that was asked to produce that would have spent about three pages on the details. Then they crucified Him. You know why? Because the New Testament leaves it to the Holy Spirit to add what we need to know.
“Then they crucified him, and divided his garments casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘They divided my garments among them [that’s in Psalm 22, another Messianic psalm], and for my clothing they cast lots.’”
Again, consider what David thought when he found himself saying those words which never happened to him.
It’s generally stated that a man in those days had four items of clothing. There were four soldiers so each soldier took one item. But then there was the seamless robe and they said it’s a shame to tear this so we’ll cast lots for it. See how exact the scripture is. The end result was Jesus was exposed totally naked on the cross. And then it says:
“Sitting down they watched him there.”
The New Testament is very discreet but it, generally speaking, gives the impression that the women followed with him stood at a distance. The only woman who came near was His mother. That’s of the people who were believers.
I hope that I am succeeding in making this vivid to you because we look at a lot of pretty pictures of the crucifixion and there’s a little blood on his hands and his feet, and a nicely adjusted crown of thorns on His head. But I mean, it doesn’t give you any concept of what actually took place.
Now, He endured shame that we might be delivered from shame and share His glory. Let me talk to you just briefly about being delivered from shame. I want you to listen carefully and don’t give way to embarrassment. There are a number of different causes why people experience shame. One is some embarrassing experience in their past. I think it sometimes happens to people in school but for some reason they’re made a spectacle to the whole class. In the old days, which none of you know anything about, they used to give you a dunce’s cap and make you stand in the corner. None of you can remember that. Well, that is exposing a person to shame. And you take a sensitive child of about 12 years old and you do that to him, you may have wounded him inwardly for the rest of his life. And of course, that’s just one example.
Then another reason for shame is some of us carry memories of things that we did before we knew the Lord that were totally shameful and degrading. Is that right? You don’t have to say yes or no. Sometimes I wonder about myself, how I could ever have done some of the things I did. And I’m not going to tell you what they were.
But I think today perhaps the commonest single cause of shame is sexual molestation of children in their early years. And the statistics today in America are absolutely frightening. Something like 1 in 4 for girls and 1 in 5 for boys have been molested sexually before the age of 12. You say that doesn’t happen inside the church. Believe me, you are wrong! When I first began to discover what things were like under the lid of the church I could hardly bear what I discovered. It’s not my business to deal specifically or individually with anybody here but I ask you, let the Holy Spirit deal with you. He’s gracious, He’s tender, He’s tactful but He’s truthful. Don’t run away from the issue. Remember, this is good news, on the cross Jesus endured all the shame that could ever happen to any one of us. He took it all. He bore it away. Remember what Jesus bore on the cross, whether it is sin or sickness or shame, He bore it away. He removed it. He took it out of the way.
Let me turn you to just two passages in the book of Job. Job 11:15, and then we’ll look at Job 22:26. You’ll see both of these talk about lifting up your face to God. Let me just read them. Job 11:15:
“Then surely you could lift up your face without spot; you could be steadfast and not fear.”
“For then you will have your delight in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.”
One of the things that I’ve observed about people who are struggling with shame is they very seldom lift their face up to pray to God. They pray like this. Why? Shame. It’s one of the marks of shame, is an unwillingness to look God or man in the face.
Now, God wounds and He heals. Especially for those of you who are involved in counseling, it is extremely important that you realize that emotional wounds are catered for at the cross. I’ll guarantee those of you that are involved in counseling, you’re going to have to deal with many, many people who have the wound of shame. Many will carry it because of molestation in childhood. I say this, I don’t want to be negative, but it happens with deacons’ children, with preachers’ children—there’s no area of the church which is exempt.
Now, how do you get healed? By faith. You thank Jesus that He bore your shame that you might be released from it. It’s very simple. Giving thanks is the simplest expression of faith. So as we close I want everybody to bow your heads and be in an attitude of prayer. I’m not going to ask anybody to put a hand up or anything. I just want you for a moment to shut yourself in with God and say, “God, if there’s shame in my heart and life that keeps me from lifting my face up, I want to believe this morning that Jesus bore my shame. That I can be set free from shame, that I can be unashamed.” Let’s just let the silence of God rest upon us for a moment. I’m not going to go on speaking, you don’t need to keep your eyes open to look at me. The cameras will be finishing but let’s just wait for a moment or two in an atmosphere and attitude of reverence before God.