In Luke 9:26 Jesus made the following statement, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (NAS) There are two things here that men are told they must avoid if they are to have any hope of Jesus not being ashamed of them in the day he returns to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31) – (1) being ashamed of Jesus (2) being ashamed of the words of Jesus.
We might well ask what is there about Jesus to be ashamed of. The answer is obvious, nothing at all. But, lest we think we are clear on this count and before we begin to pat ourselves on the back thinking we are not ashamed of him, let us think a little deeper about the matter. Is Jesus just talking about our mental state of mind when he gives this warning against being ashamed of him? I think not.
Jesus made another statement found in Matt. 10:32-33 that I believe ties in with the Luke 9 passage just quoted above. He says, "Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my father who is in heaven." (NAS) It is easy to say to ourselves I am not ashamed of Jesus and mean it but as the American idiom goes "when the rubber meets the road" and we should speak of Jesus, speak up and be heard, when that test comes, is it not true that too often, maybe most all of the time, we hold our silence and fail to speak on his behalf? I think that is generally true.
We do not speak because we do not want to be embarrassed or shamed by the world that ridicules faith in Jesus thus are more concerned about receiving honor from men rather than the honor that comes from God alone. We do not speak because we do not want to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). We do not speak because we do not want to wield "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:17 NAS) We want to just get along. As the saying goes there are two things you do not talk about lest you get into a fight – religion and politics. However, man said that not God. Jesus never held his peace and he was continually involved in verbal fights.
Yes, I am sure there is a time and a place for such discussions of Christ. But, here is the problem – we never find the right time nor place do we? It is like the right time and place never arises with us. It is out there somewhere but we just never have found it and unless our hearts change we never will find it. The bottom line is we are embarrassed or ashamed to talk of Christ to others unless we know them very, very well (immediate family?) and have judged what we think their reaction will be beforehand. Others may know we are believers for we attend services regularly but they would never know it by our talking about Jesus.
Contrast that with Christ while he was on earth. Every day he was talking religion, talking of God his Father, talking of faith and obedience and God's will for man. Every day he was into discussions and often arguments with men over religion. Is he our example? Will we follow that example? Are we afraid to? Who are we more afraid of – men's opinion or God's?
That said there was two parts of the verse we are discussing, Luke 9:26. We are also warned against being ashamed of the words of Jesus. There are far more people who are willing to confess Jesus before men and uphold his honor in that regard than there are people who are willing to accept his words.
First of all I want you all to understand that the words of Jesus are not just confined to the words printed in red in your New Testament. Jesus, in John 16, spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit and said this, "He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." (John 16:13-14 NAS) My copy of the original ASV of 1901 New Testament has on its title page these words: "The New Covenant commonly called The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." That is what it is exactly. Every word on its pages came from Jesus either directly or indirectly through the Holy Spirit.
Great indeed is the number of those who claim to be Christians that will not believe but parts of the word and are thus ashamed of the words of Jesus. How many denominationalists will ever preach what Peter preached, by means of the Holy Spirit, in Acts 2;38, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins"? (NAS) They are ashamed of those words of Jesus and do not believe them and will not abide in them and will not teach them. To them those gathered on that Pentecost day were saved the minute they repented and as they would put it "received Jesus into their hearts" and so you cannot believe these words about baptism for the forgiveness of sins that Peter spoke on behalf of Christ.
You can go to other passages and try and convince them. For example, Ananias told Saul, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." (NAS) To them Ananias did not know what he was talking about Holy Spirit or no Holy Spirit for they say baptism cannot wash away sins even if God says it can.
Peter says, by the Holy Spirit, "baptism now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21 NAS) but not with them for they will not believe the words of Jesus and are ashamed of all such. Even when Jesus spoke directly on the subject, "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5 NAS) it is not accepted. Of such people it will never be said of them that they obeyed Jesus who said, "If anyone keeps my word he shall never see death." (John 8:51 NAS) His word is what they are not keeping. This is only an example, one topic, where men are ashamed of the words of Jesus, even religious men.
I will say this; it is not easy to live up to the demands found in this Luke 9:26 passage. It takes courage, great courage, to speak of Jesus to others and defend the words of Jesus. It takes great courage to overcome the fear of contention, fights, debates, strife that will naturally arise when one does speak up and does not hold his peace.
I am reminded, however, of the passage found in Matt. 10:34-36 where Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household." (NAS) We all want peace but each of us has to make up his/her mind as to where they prefer that peace – here or the hereafter. Which will last the longest?
Jesus suffered a violent death and it was because he spoke up and did not hold his peace. Most historians think most of the apostles suffered similar fates and we know from history of burnings at the stake and violent deaths of many early Christians. Again it was not because they held their peace but because they spoke up. They were not ashamed to speak up for Jesus and were not ashamed of his words.
It takes strength to defend the very words of the New Testament, the words of Jesus. The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, said clearly, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." (2 Tim. 4:3-4 NAS) Many seem to feel that day is still in the future. They are wrong. It may continue to get worse but that day is already here. Here is the proof.
People commonly believe that people in and from every denomination will be saved thus proving Paul's point when he said "they will not endure sound doctrine." Follow the train of thought here. If people are saved from every denomination, all teaching different doctrine, then there is no such thing as sound doctrine. If one denominational doctrine is as good as another there is no such thing as sound doctrine or enduring sound doctrine. That being the case what Paul prophesied is here.
One can take the common accepted stance that the church of which one is a member does not matter and all will speak well of him, they will be glad to hear he feels that way. One can take the stance that baptism is not for the remission of sins and receive the applause of men. But, that will not change what the Bible says about either of those subjects. "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets." (Luke 6:26 NAS) What we ought to do is quit being ashamed of the words of Jesus and start following them.
If Jesus is ashamed of us in the last day we are not going to be saved. Most who read this article probably have children. How would a parent feel, how does one feel, when his children are ashamed of him and his words? Now apply that to how Jesus must feel when we are ashamed of him and his words. There can be little doubt it hurts him deeply.
We all need to take Luke 9:26 to heart and do better. It will take a great deal of strength and courage, even faith, to do so. It will also take love for God. Do we have what it will take and will we do it? That is the question we all must answer.