I often feel like a failure. With this failure comes feelings of deep embarrassment. In my head, people are jeering and laughing at me. “What a mess!” I assume they think, “How does she even show her face in public?” On days like this I am doubtful anyone will take me as I am with all my twisted, ugly failings.
I once heard someone say that Jesus is unique in that he can identify with us. As I reflected on this, I found myself wondering how does Jesus identify with me in my shame and embarrassment over failure?
According to the New Testament, Jesus led a life full of opportunities and options. Unlike us, he didn’t make unfortunate or rebellious life decisions. He was perfect, yet still able to identify with us in all of our pain and shame.
But why did the God of the universe come down to be present with us in the person of Jesus? Aren’t we far beneath him? What kind of nonsense is this?
Jesus chose to die in the most horrifying and humiliating way imaginable. Death on a cross was so base, so unbelievably shameful, that many followers of Jesus could not accept it. The idea that the supposed-Saviour of the world would (or even could) be associated with the cross was too low, too vulgar.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Emphasis mine.)
Jesus didn’t simply associate himself with the cross. He gave himself over to it. Instead of proving his power to bring himself off the cross as one heckler suggested, he stayed as they jeered and laughed at him. He died bloody, naked, and abused for all to see.
Why in the world would God send his own Son to die, and why would his Son Jesus willingly comply? It’s a shockingly scandalous scenario!
The answer brings us back to failure. Epic failure. Ours. No matter how hard we try, we’re always messing up. We constantly choose to satisfy our selfish tendencies and forge a path that takes us farther from God. We’re sinners. Our pursuit of what God says is evil makes us guilty before God. We have no hope of reconnecting with him. We deserve the death penalty. We have no rescue from our downward spiral into selfishness and destruction.
But God saw us in our own blind self-induced slavery and in love chose to rescue us and fund the entire mission. Jesus had compassion on our otherwise-impossible-to-fix situation and became the solution. He died in our place. Our shame and sin was taken from us and put on him. Now shameless, sinless people, we can know and experience an uninhibited relationship with God. What an immense privilege!
I don’t know about you, but the mystery and the sheer outrageousness of this story makes me want to know the Author of it. Who else but God can come up with a hero so amazing and a rescue so epic, heart-wrenching, and inspiring?
What must I do to be saved?
If you’re like me and recognize that you have no hope but Jesus and want your sin and shame taken away, you might be wondering how. Acknowledge you need saving and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Then, turn away from your sin and rebellion (which is called repentance) and invite God into your life by faith in him and his promise to save you.
I made this decision to follow Jesus and trust him to save me from my sin a long time ago. My life changed as I came into a personal relationship with God. Even today, the truths of this event speak to me as I deal with the continued reality that I remain imperfect because of sin. I regularly fail and feel embarrassed and, at times, ashamed of myself. But God doesn’t hold my sin and imperfection against me anymore: Jesus has paid for it all!
Are you ready to make this decision? If not, what’s preventing you? If so, I’d love to hear from you.