Deeply rooted in our consciences is the desire for our parents not to be ashamed of us. So much do we long to avoid their being ashamed that we find the words “We’re proud of you” from our parents to be among the most encouraging and treasured words we could ever imagine. Whether we are four or forty-four, we long to know that our mothers and fathers are not ashamed of us.
If we want fallen people not to be ashamed of us, how much more should we long for the very Creator of the universe not to be ashamed of us? The desire for God not to find us shameful underlies today’s passage, wherein Jesus issues a final warning related to the cost of discipleship. Christ has promised that suffering is the lot of all who follow Him, so He knows that many people will not consider the price of obeying Him worth paying. Having stated that the only way to find life and preserve one’s most valuable possession—the human soul—Jesus gives us one more reason to take up the cross and follow Him (see Mark 8:31–37). He says that He will be ashamed of us on the day He consummates His kingdom if we are too ashamed of Him to claim His name and follow Him when it brings us pain (v. 38).
Christ in today’s passage refers to Himself as the “Son of Man,” which is the title He uses for Himself more than any other title in the Gospels. We will look at this title more in the chapters of Mark that still lie ahead of us; today, we note that “Son of Man” is a title of highest glory, referring ultimately to Jesus’ prerogative of being the King and Judge over all (Dan. 7:13–14). It is a title that finally refers to His character as the God-man. Basically, Jesus is saying that to be ashamed of Him and His call is to be ashamed of God; therefore, Christ, who is God incarnate, will repay the favor on the last day. He will be ashamed to call us His people. And if the Lord is ashamed to call us His people, we cannot truly be His people and will not inherit eternal life. Those who are impenitently ashamed of Him in this world are those whom He has never known (Matt. 7:21–23).
That Christ will be ashamed of us if we are ashamed of Him does not mean one instance of being ashamed of Him disqualifies us as His people. Peter, after all, was so ashamed of Jesus that he denied the Lord before others. But Jesus forgave Peter when he repented (Luke 22:31–32). Let us therefore repent of where we have been ashamed of Christ so that we may be forgiven and persevere in faith until the very end.