I Am Not Ashamed of Jesus
Pentecost 2A Romans 1:16-17
(Also this sermon is in Lent 2B,
The text for the
sermon is Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ, for it is the power for salvation for all who believe.”
we hear the Word of the Lord from Mark 8:38, “Whomever is ashamed
of me and my words, in this sinful and adulterous generation…”
Second Timothy, “Do not be ashamed of testifying and witnessing to
our Lord Jesus Christ. Take your share of the suffering for sake of
the gospel. Do your best to present yourself to one approved as a
worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of
am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
of us have numerous experiences in life where we have felt ashamed.
It is the very nature of human experience, the very nature of all
human beings, the very nature of human personality to feel shame.
starts very early in life and ends late in life. As a little child,
parents teach you to be ashamed of certain words and certain action.
And at the end of life, when you are growing old and getting ready
to die, you feel ashamed that you cannot control your bodily
functions. And so from the very beginning of life and to the very
end of life, and in all the years in between, we experience shame.
For shame is at the very heart and nature of human personality.
There is a proneness to shame in all of us.
For example. Many
examples. We are often ashamed of our bodies. Our bodies are too fat
or too skinny, too tall or too short, too old or too young, too
wrinkled or too tight, too dark or too light, and the bumps are not
in the right places. So we learn to be ashamed of our bodies. For
example, I remember distinctly when I was a freshman at college, I
had a large boil right here on my cheek. I would walk into the
men’s bathroom in the men’s dormitory, and I would look into
fifteen mirrors in that bathroom, and all fifteen mirrors would show
me that enormous boil that was boiling on my face. I telephoned this
young woman for a date. She was from my freshman English class. She
said, “Well, who are you?” “My name is Ed Markquart. I am the
person seated right behind you in freshman English.” I knew what
image flashed in her mind. She saw the great big, welting boil on my
face, sitting behind her. I knew she didn’t see my eyes, my nose,
my hair but only that awful boil that was boiling on my cheek. Some
people are ashamed of their bodies being too short, too tall, too
fat, too skinny, too whatever.
We are also ashamed
of our behavior. We have all experienced that. For example, you go
over to a person’s house for dinner and you reach for the glass
and you knock water over that nice, linen tablecloth. Or, you reach
for the gravy spoon and you dribble gravy on that nice linen
tablecloth. Or, you have a wine glass that you drop and the wine
spills all over their new carpet. Those are things that I can easily
remember that I have done recently. All of us have social
experiences where we feel embarrassed by our behavior.
We are also
embarrassed by our private lives, the things that we have done. I
remember very vividly something that I did when I was a
senior in high school, and my family does not know about it. My
children do not know about it. My wife does not know about it. You
don’t know about it, and I am not going to tell you about it. That
is just the way it is. We all have those private stories in life
that we would prefer that no one knows about. We are ashamed of
Sometimes, we are
also ashamed of certain aspects of our personalities. There are
parts of our personalities that we just don’t like. We cry too
easily. We laugh too loudly. We can’t tell or remember jokes. Our
personalities are too bland, too much blended into the walls and
wallpaper of life.
We are also ashamed
of our families. Every child who has ever lived go through a period
of time in their lives that they are ashamed of their parents. There
are many teenagers who would not want to be caught alive walking
with a parent through the mall. Children can become ashamed of the
way that parents click their teeth, noises that they make with their
mouth, the way they eat, the way they sneeze, the way they smell. My
kids have been ashamed of me at certain times during their lives and
that is normal.
It is not only
children who are ashamed of parents but parents can be ashamed of
children. Parents are shamed by what their children have done, and
parents are also ashamed of what their children haven’t done.
Parents are ashamed of the trouble that their kids get into and
ashamed that their kids didn’t do better in tests, school, band,
is part of the human condition and the very nature of human
personality, from the time you were very young in life to when you
Shame, so it seems
to me, grows out of an egotistical love, out of a sinful love, out
of selfish love that will make me looking badly. That is, I am
ashamed because a certain behavior will have a negative reflection
on myself. I am ashamed of what my father did because of the
reflection that it would make on me. I am ashamed of my children
because they will be a poor reflection on me. They will make me look
It is with these
images of shame and the proneness towards shame that is deep within
human nature, that we approach the gospel lesson for today where
Jesus says, “Whoever is ashamed of me in this sinful and
adulterous generation, whoever is ashamed of me and my teachings in
a world which is into sin and adultery, of that person will the Son
of man be ashamed when he comes in great glory.”
In New Testament
times, we find that there were a great number of people who did not
want to admit that they were followers of Jesus Christ. Today, we
would call them “closet Christians.” These “closet
Christians” were ashamed to let anyone know that they were
The primary and
most popular image of this behavior is Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a
wealthy member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling senate of Israel.
Nicodemus did not want his fellow senators to know that he was a
follower of Christ. Nicodemus was ashamed to let the other “big
shots” in the senate know that he was a “born again”
Christian, that he had deep religious feelings, that he was
committed to Jesus Christ.
There were many
“closet Christians” in those days who didn’t want other people
to know that they were followers of Christ because it could cost
them their life, their family, their job, their life itself.
The Apostle Paul
and Jesus, knowing that there were many “closet Christians” and
were ashamed of being disciples, the Apostle Paul said very clearly,
“I am not ashamed. I want you to know, world, that I am not
ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for
salvation.” Jesus also spoke crystal clearly when he said,
“Whoever is ashamed of me and of my teachings in this sinful and
adulterous generation which makes fun of my teachings, I will be
ashamed of at the end of time.”
Simon Peter was an
example of a person who pretended that he did not know Jesus. On
Holy Thursday night, Simon was standing near a campfire in the
courtyard of Caiaphus who was High Priest that year. The men around
the campfire recognized Peter’s accent as a Galilean and so they
accused Peter of being a Galilean and a follower of Jesus. Peter
swore up and down that he did not know Jesus, that he was not a
follower of Jesus. As soon as Peter denied Jesus, the rooster crowed
three times. At the campfire that night, Peter was ashamed of
How do we apply
these words? How do these words apply to us, living here in the
twenty-first century? Living here in America where two-thirds of the
population belongs to church? Living here in the Pacific Northwest,
Des Moines, Federal Way and Kent? How do these words about shame
apply to us?
First, we need to
state the gospel. It needs to be clearly said that Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, is not ashamed of you and me. No matter how bad we have
been. No matter how rotten we have been. No matter what we have said
or done. It needs to be clearly said today that Jesus Christ is not
ashamed of your life and mine. Those who are in grades 5-9 and are
taking notes, write that down. Jesus Christ is not ashamed of me,
even though I am a sinner. A second time: Jesus Christ is not
ashamed of me, even though I am a sinner. Now, this is hard for us
to comprehend because we are so prone to shame, so prone to being
ashamed about our bodies, our brains, our behaviors, and our
brothers and sisters. We are so prone to shame that it is difficult
for us to conceive of the possibility that God is not ashamed of us.
Because shame is so deep within us, it is almost impossible for us
to conceive that God is not ashamed of us. We need to clearly hear
the gospel and the gospel is: God is not ashamed of you and me. God
is not ashamed of us in the midst of our sinfulness. How do I know
that? How do I know that? Because I know the gospel and that is the
gospel. That God loves sinful people. That God loves selfish people.
That God loves failing people. That God loves rebelling people. That
God loves runaway people. That God loves people who are ashamed of
all the ugly things that they have done.
You see, the word,
grace, means, free gift. God freely gives us his love to sinful
It feels so good to
have somebody proud of you and to know that God is proud of you even
when you are a sinner.
For example, from
this pulpit, you have often heard me speak about my mother. My
mother was one of the finest people I have known in my life, and one
of the good qualities she had was that she was always proud of us.
My mother was always proud of us, even when we did things that were
really stupid. She never withheld her love and her pride. And God is
proud of you and me, even when we are sinful people, rebellious
runaways. God does not wait until you become a “superciple,” a
super disciple, a super loving person in order to be proud of you.
God is proud of you when you are a sinner. That is the gospel.
“When we were sinners, Christ died for us on the cross.”
And then… God
invites us to love the same way. To love our mothers and our
fathers, our brothers and our sisters, our sons and our daughters,
our friends and our neighbors. To love them and not to be ashamed.
Not to be ashamed of my mother and my father, and my brother and my
sister, and my friends and my neighbors. Not to be ashamed of those
that I love when they are sinful.
So I want the first
point of this sermon to be clearly understood: God loves us even
when we are sinful people and God is not ashamed of us. God asks us
to love each other without shame.
The second theme
that needs to be said in the sermon for today is this: we are prone
to feel shame about our brains, our bodies, our behaviors, and
therefore it is very for us to feel shame about God as well. We
become ashamed to let other people know that we are committed
Christians. We become ashamed that we are passionately committed to
Christ. Therefore, we become like Nicodemus who was ashamed to let
the other senators know that he was meeting with Jesus Christ.
Yes, we need to let
other people know that we are disciples of Christ, that we are
“born again” Christians, that we have deep religious feelings,
that we pray, that we believe that God intervenes in our lives, that
God has given us a religious purpose, that we have high moral
standards, that we do not abuse God’s name by swearing. We
Christians need to let the world know that we are proud of Jesus’
Words, his words and the Bible. We need to let this sinful and
adulterous generation which mocks the teachings of Jesus know that
we are proud of God’s Word, the Bible as well as Jesus because the
Bible contains the teachings, life and death of Jesus.
There is no need
for us to be ashamed. If anyone needs to be ashamed and defensive,
it is the adulterous and sinful generation in which we live. If
anyone needs to feel shame, it is the sinful and adulterous
generation in which we live.
The opposite of
shame is pride. When you are proud of someone or something, you want
to share your pride in that someone or something with others.
Several examples. When I go over to homes of those kids in
grades five through nine who are taking notes and see their pictures
on their walls of soccer or baseball or the band, those kids are so
proud. When they are proud, they want to share the stories that go
with the pictures. Is that not true? When they are proud, they want
to share. Or, I
was at someone’s home recently and the seventh grader had learned
to play the trumpet. I was in that house for ten minutes and that
trumpet was out and that kid was going to show the preacher how he
could play that trumpet. He were so proud, and wanted to share.
Or, I have been over at your home and you recently rebuilt a
home, remodeled a home or built a new home. You were so proud of
what you did or have done, and you want to share. You want to take
me to all the rooms and show me all that you have done. Because when
you are proud of something you did or have, you want to share. That
is the way it is with human nature.
Christians have every reason to be proud of the gospel and so we
want to share it. We are proud of the good news, that God and Christ
love you just the way you are. We are proud of the gospel that all
of our sins are fully and freely forgiven. We are proud of the cross
that Jesus Christ has died for you sins and that we are invited to
walk the way of the cross. We are proud that Jesus was raised from
the dead by the mighty powers of God and gives eternal life to all
who believe in him and walk in his ways. We are proud of our church.
We are proud of the grand Christian lives around us. Proud of our
Christian friends. Proud of our homeless shelter. Proud of our world
hunger ministries and our sister churches in Haiti and Jamaica. We
are proud that our kids want to go on summer mission trips. We are
Proud. Proud. Proud of the gospel. We are proud of the way that
Jesus Christ still transforms peoples lives today.
Because we are
proud of the gospel, it is natural that we want to share with the
world around us about Jesus Christ.
And so on this day,
those of us who know Jesus Christ, we say with the Apostle Paul: I
am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. The gospel is the power of
Well, today as you
leave this place, there is a sinful and adulterous generation in
which you live and move. And as you go and live and move in the
midst of that sinful and adulterous generation, may you be deeply
proud that you know Jesus Christ, deeply proud that you are a
follower of Christ, deeply proud that you are children of the