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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 13, 2015 under 2015 |

Message preached Sunday, December 13, 2015 from Mark 8:38

Theme: If we are not ashamed to fully identify ourselves with Jesus now, He will not be ashamed to fully identify Himself with us when He returns in glory.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying together from the last half of the eighth chapter of Mark’s Gospel. And today, I ask that we concentrate on just the last verse of that chapter. It’s a verse in which the Lord Jesus says something that is very relevant to our own times—and to our witness for Him in these times.

Jesus was having a discussion with His disciples about what it means to be His follower in this world. And He concluded that discussion with these stunning words;

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34).

* * * * * * * * * *

Ashamed of Jesus! Did you know that there was a hymn once written about that? It goes by the title, Jesus, and Shall It Ever Be. We don’t have it in our hymnal, but the words go like this:

Jesus and shall it ever be,
A mortal man ashamed of Thee?
Ashamed of Thee whom angels praise,
Whose glories shine through endless days?
Ashamed of Jesus! Sooner far
Let evening blush to own a star;
He sheds the beams of light divine
O’er this benighted soul of mine.
Ashamed of Jesus! that dear Friend,
On whom my hopes of heav’n depend?
No! when I blush be this my shame,
That I no more revere His name.
Ashamed of Jesus! Yes I may,
When I’ve no guilt to wash away,
No tear to wipe, no good to crave,
No fears to quell, no soul to save.

And the chorus goes like this:

Ashamed of Jesus,
I never, I will never be;
For Jesus my Savior,
Is not ashamed of me.1

I especially love the words of that chorus. It speaks a great truth. I should never be ashamed to be identified with Jesus; because Jesus was not ashamed to be identified with a sinner such as me. And believe me—there are plenty of reasons to be ashamed of me if He had wanted to be!

I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to pull together a biblical theology of Jesus’ unashamedness in being identified with us. But I’d like to try something a little like it now. My reason for doing this is to show—before we even begin to look at Jesus’ words in this one verse—how utterly unashamed and unhesitant Jesus is to be united in love to sinners like you and me to the fullest possible level. Please let me share with you some of the things that the Bible tells us about this.

First is the fact—and what an amazing fact it is!—that Jesus, as the eternal Son of God, was willing to put on full humanity and be born into this fallen world as one of us. As created beings, we are born under the law of God our Creator. But as fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we are sinners who have broken God’s law. We live under the bondage of the curse of that law for our sin. And yet, as the apostle Paul once wrote;

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

Just consider that much! Even though He was the glorious King of heaven, He wasn’t ashamed to become one of us. In taking full humanity to Himself in His incarnation, He—as fully God—made Himself fully man—the God/Man forever! And He did this so that we could become members of His family!

Now; if He had wanted to, He could have taken full humanity to Himself as our Redeemer, and lived out His life in a fortress of solitude somewhere far away from dirty sinners like us. But He didn’t do that. Instead, He put that unashamedness into full relational practice. He was willing to have close, intimate fellowship with the worst kind of people you can imagine! It really caused a problem for the religious leaders of the day. Do you remember the time when He called Matthew the Tax Collector to become one of His followers? Matthew was a sinner; yet Jesus called him to be a disciple. Matthew then put together a big dinner and invited all of his sinner friends to come and meet Jesus. These were considered by the Jewish people to be such notorious sinners that they had to be put in a category all their own, apart from regular sinners—“tax collectors and sinners”. In his own Gospel account, Matthew the tax collector tells us;

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:10-11).

But Jesus wasn’t ashamed to hang around with such sinners. He wasn’t worried about what other people might think of Him for doing so. In fact, in the Bible, He’s called “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). And the tax collectors and sinners must have agreed, because they gathered around Him gladly.

Our Lord’s baptism gives us a wonderful picture of how much He was willing to publicly identify with us. In Matthew 3, we’re told of how people were coming to John the Baptist, in great numbers, to be baptized by Him for repentance from sin. And John was very stunned to see Jesus coming to be baptized too—and in front of everyone! Jesus, of course, wasn’t a sinner and didn’t need to repent. He was completely righteous before His Father. And yet, we’re told,

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him (Matthew 3:13-15).

He said that it was “fitting” or “proper” for Him to do this in fulfilling all righteousness. This was because, in order to bring about all righteousness in us, He needed to die for our sins. And to die for our sins as our Redeemer, He needed to identify Himself fully with our debt before God. That’s why He stepped into the waters of baptism with other sinners—even though He Himself wasn’t a sinner! What a picture of His unashamed identification with us!

One of the most amazing descriptions in the Bible of Jesus’ unashamed willingness to be fully identified with us is found in Hebrews 2:10-18. Let me read that whole passage to you; and as I do, just think of the ways it tells us that He was willing to be completely identified with you and me:

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren;

In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”

And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:10-18).

Look at it all! He suffered with us. He was willing to be made one with us in order to be an atoning sacrifice for us. He is willing to call us by such familiar names as “My brethren” and “the children whom God has given Me”. He partook with us of the same kind of flesh and blood that we are made of; and, on our behalf, tasted of the same kind of death that we are affected by because of sin. In all things, He was made like us in order to be our merciful Savior and High Priest. And I especially love what it says in verse 11; that “He is not ashamed to call” us “brethren”.

Would you like to know to what an extent Jesus has taken this unashamed identification with sinners like us? He has taken it as far as it is possible for Him to take it as the glorious Son of God. He has taken it all the way to the point of promising that we will be united with Him in glory forever in the eternal relationship He enjoys with the Father! In John 17, He prayed for His twelve disciples; and He added these words about you and me;

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 15:20-23).

He has so fully identified Himself with sinners like us—and unashamedly so—that He will unite us with Himself forever so that we will enjoy with Him the eternal fellowship He enjoys with the heavenly Father! He will even share with us the glory that the Father has given Him!

Seeing then how much He has unashamedly identified Himself with sinners like us, why would we then ever be ashamed to be identified with Him?

* * * * * * * * * * *

But in this fallen world—as crazy as it would seem in the light of all the ways He has identified Himself with us—we are often ashamed. We hold back from owning Him as our Savior and Lord in front of other people.

Why are we tempted to do this? I can think of several reasons. We might be tempted to be “ashamed” of Jesus because of the offense of the cross. The Bible tells us that “we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). The idea that Jesus’ death on a despised cross would somehow make us righteous in the sight of God seems ridiculous to the self-righteous and philosophically sophisticated people of this world. And so, we might be ashamed to say we are identified with Jesus because we don’t want to look foolish in the eyes of those who mock and scorn the cross.

Another reason we might be tempted to be “ashamed” of Jesus is because of what a faith in His cross says about us. The fact that we need a savior from sins—and that it needed to be no one less than the Son of God Himself—is no compliment to our self-sufficiency! To identify with Jesus is to identify with His cross; and to identify with His cross means that I admit that I am a desperate and hopeless sinner in the midst of a world that loves sin. It admits to everyone that I am broken and needy, while everyone else around me thinks that they themselves have it all together and don’t need anything from God.

Still another reason might be because of the fact that Jesus is hated by those who are devoted to this world’s system of values and beliefs. Jesus Himself said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). If we become associated with Jesus, we become associated with the one that the world hates. And if it hated Him, it will also hate us. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

There might be many other reasons why we might be tempted to be ashamed of an association with Jesus. But I’ll share with you what I believe is the number one reason. In fact, I believe it is the reason that takes all the other reasons up into itself, and is the ultimate cause of them. It’s simply that we don’t really believe—I mean really believe from the heart—that what Jesus said about His glorious return is the truth. Let me read Mark 8:38 to you again:

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34; emph. added).

Unless we really, genuinely, whole-heartedly believe that Jesus is going to return to this earth in power and great glory as King of kings and Lord of lords—unless we truly believe that every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will confess Him as Lord—unless we truly have a relationship with Him by faith, and are fully united to Him, and have put all our hopes on the fact that everything we give up for Him now will be gloriously rewarded by Him on the day of His return—then we will be tempted to be ashamed of Him.

I learned that lesson from the apostle Paul. As he was sitting in a prison cell awaiting execution for His faithfulness to preach the gospel of Jesus, He wrote;

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:12).

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ; if Jesus is going to come back as the Scriptures promises (and because of His resurrection, we have every reason to believe that everything the Scriptures promise about His return will come to pass), then it is absolutely foolish to be ashamed of Him!

As this one verse assures us, if we are not ashamed to fully identify ourselves with Jesus now, He will not be ashamed to fully identify Himself with us when He returns in glory.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; I’ve just given you a long introduction to my sermon. It may be the longest introduction to a sermon that I’ve ever given! But I believe that we’re now ready to take a closer look at this remarkable verse.

First, notice


Do you see the word “For” that begins this verse? That let’s us know that what Jesus says in this verse is crucially connected to what comes before it. It gives us the basis for what He said in the previous verses about the cost of becoming one of His followers. He told those who wished to follow Him;

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37).

To follow Jesus will cost everything that we are and have. We have to deny ourselves, pick up our cross—the instrument of our complete death—and follow wherever He commands us to go. We must lose our life (figuratively, and perhaps in some cases literally) for Him and for His gospel.

The world thinks that’s insane. Putting it mildly, it views that that’s becoming fanatical for Jesus. And we might be tempted to hold back because of what the world thinks of such a commitment. But as one good friend put it to me recently, to be saved by Jesus costs us nothing more than faith—and nothing less than everything we are.

Now; that’s quite a thing to believe in a world such as ours. And Jesus knew this. Note next what He says about . . .


He spoke of “this adulterous and sinful generation”. What did He mean by “generation”? When He said, “this generation”, was He speaking of the generation of Jewish people living at the time He ministered on this earth? That’s certainty possible. After all, we’re told in the Bible that “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). But I believe He was speaking of something much larger than that. I believe He was speaking of all people living in this “age” that preceded the time of His reign on this earth—the “generation” of people who live between His incarnation and His second coming.

This present “generation”—the people of this present age—have been given a clear revelation of who Jesus is. They knew Him clearly when He walked upon this earth; and people who have lived in the successive centuries that came after have been able to know Him even more clearly. But just as they did not receive Him back then for who He truly is, the people of this world have not received Him since; and they do not receive Him today. They have lived, for the most part, as if He had never come at all. Look at how He refers to “this generation” as “adulterous”. That is, they knew who He was; but even when they would seem to ‘receive’ Him, they would not stay faithful to Him. They turned in love to other things—other gods, other teachings, other ‘ways’ of salvation. Nations that were formerly known as ‘Christian’ are turning away from Him at a remarkable pace today. And He referred to this generation as “sinful”. It deviated from the path that God had clearly set for righteousness. It has loved that from which Jesus came to set us free; and so, it will not turn to Him.

You can see something of this from what Jesus also says about . . .


They are the things that this sinful and adulterous generation mocks and scorns—tempting us, at times, to be ashamed of Jesus. Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation . . .”

Look at what it is that Jesus says people might be ashamed of. First, they might be ashamed of Him as a person. Judas certainly was. Judas was hoping that Jesus would be the mighty, conquering Messiah that would kick the Romans out and bring back the glorious days of King David. But he became disappointed with Jesus when He kept talking about dying on a cross. And so, he sought to sell the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

But that’s not all. Some people might be willing to accept Jesus’ person. But when it comes to accepting His words, it’s a different matter. They are often embarrassed by the things He said in the Bible—even ashamed of them. Many scholars go out of their way to deny that He even said the things that the Bible attributes to Him. They try their hardest to disassociate Him from the teaching of the Old Testament. And yet, Jesus cannot be separated from what He said. He warned about those who would be “ashamed of Me and My words”

But it becomes a very strange thing to be “ashamed” of Him if you truly believed what this verse says about . . .


Jesus calls Himself “the Son of Man”. That’s a name that is taken from Daniel 7:13-14; where it says this about the promise of Jesus’ return:

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

Does that sound like someone to be ‘ashamed’ of? Jesus Himself goes on to say that this glorious “Son of Man” will Himself be ashamed of those who would be ashamed of Him “when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” In Matthew 24, our Lord said;

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).

Think of it! The ‘tribes of the earth’ will mourn when they see Him. The redeemed wont mourn, but the various power structures of the unbelieving world—the great and mighty of this world—will! I think here of what it says in Revelation 6 about the people who think that you and I should be ashamed of Jesus today:

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:14-17).

I hope, of course, that none of those who mock our faith today will have to experience His wrath. I hope that they will repent. But when I read that that’s what happens to the ‘big shots’ of this world when Jesus returns in power and glory, I have to wonder why I should even care what such people think today of my faith in Jesus!

And that leads us, then, to . . .


He says, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” “Whoever”!

When I read this, I remember a similar thing that He told His disciples in Matthew 10:32-33;

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ; let’s make sure we are not among those who will have that horrible experience. In this fallen world, let’s not be afraid to take our stand with Jesus. Let’s publicly own Him as our Savior and Lord now. Let’s not yield to the temptation to be ‘ashamed’ of such a Savior. Let’s not be so afraid of men that we are silent about Him.

As true followers, let’s deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. And let’s keep our hopes on the promise of His glorious return. Because if we fully unashamedly identify ourselves with Jesus now, we’ll never need to fear that He’ll be ashamed to identify Himself with us on that great day.

<sup><a href=”#1″>1</a></sup>Jesus, and Shall It Ever Be, 1914, by Joseph Griggs.

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