Home > C. H. Spurgeon > Spurgeon: How Christ Was Shamed … for the Joy Set Before Him

Spurgeon: How Christ Was Shamed … for the Joy Set Before Him


From the familiar text in Hebrews 12:2, some great observations from Spurgeon concerning the shame that Christ despised.

“Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame,
and is now set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.”

Shame is something that mankind fears most of all, even more so than death. The Bible gives us several examples of characters who, even at the point of death, were most concerned about their honor:

  • Abimelech in Judges 9, for example, who didn’t want it said that a woman had slain him
  • King Saul, in 1 Samuel 31, fell upon his own sword so it wouldn’t be said that he fell by the Philistines
  • King Zedekiah:  who albeit he seemed reckless enough, he was afraid to fall into the hands of the Chaldeans lest the Jews who had gone over to Nebuchadnezzar should mock him.  (Jeremiah 38:19)

Spurgeon further observed:

It is well known that criminals and malefactors have often had a greater fear of public contempt than of anything else. Nothing can so break down the human spirit as to continually be subject to contempt—the visible and manifest contempt of one’s fellows! In fact, to go further, shame is so frightful to man that it is one of the ingredients of Hell itself! It is one of the bitterest drops in that awful cup of misery—the shame of everlasting contempt to which wicked men awake in the day of their resurrection. To be despised of men, despised of angels, despised of God is one of the depths of Hell! Shame, then, is a terrible thing to endure. And many of the proudest natures have been subdued when once they have been subjected to it. In the Savior’s case, shame would be peculiarly shameful.  The nobler a man’s nature, the more readily does he perceive the slightest contempt and the more acutely does he feel it. That contempt which an ordinary man might bear without suffering—he who has been bred to be obeyed and who has all his life been honored—would feel most bitterly. Beggared princes and despised monarchs are among the most miserable of men!

From that little phrase “the shame” we can look back to the gospel accounts and observe the many ways in which Christ was shamed:

  •     Shameful accusations:  blasphemy (among the Jews) and sedition (to the Romans)
  •     Shameful mocking of many kinds, from Herod and from Pilate’s soldiers

They mocked His person, both His humanity (stripping Him of His garments), and His Divine person:
“If You are the Son of God, come down from the Cross and we will believe on You.”

They mocked Him as God, in all His offices of King, Prophet and Priest:

  •     The true King, they gave a crown of thorns and a purple robe
  •     The true prophet:  they blindfolded Him and said “prophesy! Who hit you?”
  •     The true Priest:  “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us!” “Ah, He saved others; Himself He could not save,”they laughed!

They mocked Him in His sufferings, and they even mocked His prayers.  Here Spurgeon observes:

Did you ever read in all the annals of executions, or of murders, that ever men mocked their fellow creatures’ prayers? I have read stories of some dastardly villains who have sought to slay their enemies and seeing their death approaching, the victims have said, “give me a moment or two for prayer”—and rare has been the cases when this has been disallowed! But I never read of a case in which when the prayer was uttered it has been laughed at and made the object of a jest! But here hangs the Savior and every word He speaks becomes the subject of a pun, the motto of a jest. And when at the last He utters the most thrilling deathshriek that ever startled earth and Hell, “Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabacthani,” even then they must pun upon it and say, “He calls for Elijah; let us see whether Elijah will come and take Him down.” He was mocked even in His prayer!

Yet as Hebrews 12:2 tells us, He endured the cross, and despised the shame — for the joy set befor Him.  Some closing words from Spurgeon on that thought:

the joy which Christ felt! It was the joy of feeding us with the Bread of Heaven—the joy of clothing poor, naked sinners in His own Righteousness—the joy of finding mansions in Heaven for homeless souls—of delivering us from the prison of Hell and giving us the eternal enjoyments of Heaven! But why should Christ look on us? Why should He choose to do this for us? Oh, my Friends, we never deserved anything at His hands! As a good old writer says, “When I look at the Crucifixion of Christ, I remember that my sins put Him to death. I see not Pilate, but I see myself in Pilate’s place, bartering Christ for honor. I hear not the cry of the Jews, but I hear my sins yelling out, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him.’ I see not iron nails, but I see my own iniquities fastening him to the Cross! I see no spear, but I behold my  unbelief piercing His poor wounded side—
‘For You, my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were!
Each of my sins became a nail and unbelief the spear.’”

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  1. Mark
    November 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    2 Corinthians 3:18 [NIV]; And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

    Jesus saw past the pain, the nails, the hunger, the thirst, the agony, the derision, the blasphemy, the shame, the wrath of God Himself, and saw His people – those of us who believe in His Name and call upon it as our one and only means of salvation from the righteous wrath of God. He doesn’t look as us (the Redeemed) the way we currently are, but He sees us through Calvary as a reflection of Himself because He has made us worthy through the shedding of His blood.

    Revelation 5:9 [NIV]; And they sang a new song, saying:

    “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

    God is in love with His own reflection, and rightly so. It is not arrogance, because God is the very source of all beauty, all love, all peace, all power, all purity, all majesty, all holiness, all righteousness, all grace, all mercy, and all life. When He looks at us, we who have been washed in His blood, He is thrilled beyond human comprehension at seeing His own reflection staring Him back in His holy face.

    Zephaniah 3:17 [NIV]; The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

    God sings. Imagine what that sounds like. The gray matter behind my eyes does not have the capacity to grasp such a concept. The Author and Creator of everything that exists in this physical realm, and in Heaven itself, and who holds it all together by the word of His power, sings over us!

    John 1:3 [NIV]; Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    Colossians 1:17 [NIV]; He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    In no way am I saying that we are as equal to God. I am not condoning the New Age doctrine of demons which teaches that we are all divine, and have untapped divinity inside each of us. I am saying that the blood of Jesus is so powerful that it can make the vilest sinner so spotlessly clean that Christ Himself is reflected in us because of His finished work at the cross.

    “O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
    To every believer the promise of God;
    The vilest offender who truly believes,
    That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”

    ~ Fanny Crosby – “To God Be The Glory”

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