Jesus took our sins in his body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). But did he also take our shame caused by those sins?
1. The cross itself is associated with shame. Crucifixion is a shameful way to die; it's victims are humiliated, exposed, and tortured...publicly. When Jesus went to the cross, it was as our substitute - he died for us. He endured OUR punishment for our sins at the cross. He was put to shame for our sins.
• looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2, ESV
2. Jesus described his suffering at the hands of the Gentiles as being “shamefully treated.” For our sake Jesus was treated shamefully though he did not deserve it (he took our shameful treatment).
• For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. Luke 18:32
3. Through the gospel, believers will not be put to shame. That is, before God we have no shame because of what Christ has done.
This does not mean (1) that we will not face shame as a result of present mistakes, failures or sins, as a natural consequence. It also does not mean (2) that we will be free from being ridiculed by others for identifying with Christ (we must follow Jesus, taking up our cross, sometimes receiving shameful treatment from the world). But it means that before God our shame is gone, having been taken by Christ. God is not ashamed to call us his own (Hebrews 11:16) and Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (Hebrews 2:11). We are therefore welcome in the presence of God with no shame for our past sins:
• and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5, ESV
• as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:33, ESV
• For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:10-11, ESV. (Note that this is in the context of believing in and confessing Christ; that is, a result of believing Christ is not being put to shame).
• As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, [5 ] you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [6 ] For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” [7 ] So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” [8 ] and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. [9 ] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. [10 ] Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:4-10, ESV
Notice in Peter the contrast between the dishonor of the wicked and the honor of those who are in Christ. We are not “put to shame,” but are rather a chosen people, acceptable to God because of Christ!
Concerning the quotation of Isaiah 28:16 above, twice by Paul and once by Peter, the ESV Study Bible notes say, “Those who trust in Christ will not experience end-time shame,” and “Shame here refers to the end-time humiliation that those judged on the last day will experience when they are sent to hell.”
So we see that, though there may be shame as a (negative) consequence of our failures in this life, or as a (positive) result of identifying with Jesus, the believer has been accepted and welcomed by God through the gospel and will ultimately bear no shame, forever. This is because Jesus Christ took our shame when he bore it at the cross. Let us, then, come boldly and freely into the presence of God! While we remember our past sins and give glory to God for rescuing us from them, there is also a sense in which we forget what is behind and press on toward what lies ahead – the glory and love we will enjoy forever with God, because of Christ. Hallelujah!