“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.” — Hebrews 12:2
Shame is a cruel and ugly emotion, and it is found even among Christians. It is often the result of sexual abuse or emotional abuse, such as being ridiculed at school. I once read a story about a headmaster who singled out one boy and told him to stand up, then said to the whole class, “All of you have passed your exams except him.” How could this young man feel anything but shame? Many experiences of childhood can cause shame. Those that happened longest ago are sometimes the hardest to uproot. First in is often last out.
Perhaps the most common source of shame in our Western civilization is sexual abuse (even by professing Christians). Only when they come to the cross will they be set free from that shame. This prophetic utterance describes what Jesus did for us: The Lord God has opened My ear, and I [Jesus] was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. (Isaiah 50:5–6)
Jesus said, “I gave My back.” He could have saved Himself; He could have called for twelve legions of angels to rescue Him. (See Matthew 26:53.) But He did not. He gave His back. The depictions we see of the scourging of Jesus have very little to do with our own familiar reality. It was a horrible scene because the scourge had little pieces of metal or bone embedded in the thongs. When they fell on a man’s body, they tore away the skin and exposed the raw flesh. That is what Jesus endured for our sake. And He did not hide His face from shame and spitting. On the cross, Jesus bore our shame.