The Greek word translated “ashamed” (epaischunomai) refers to being embarrassed or fearful of ridicule, but it can also refer to despising or rejecting. When Jesus warns against being “ashamed” of Him and of His words, He has more in mind than simply outward profession.
There has not been a more crucial time in recent history when Christians have needed to stand firm in their faith. As culture becomes increasingly antagonistic to Christianity, the temptation for believers is to be ashamed of biblical truth, and even to deny Jesus Christ who is Himself the truth (John 14:6). When Christian truth is unpopular and unappealing, there is immense pressure from the world to compromise our witness. However, we are called not to waver or to fear others but to stand unashamed of Christ. And while many may fall away from the faith, our Lord has a solemn warning for those who would be ashamed of Christ and of His truth.
The Call to Follow Christ in Truth
We read the sobering words of Jesus in Mark 8:38: “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” In no uncertain terms, Jesus promises that all those who live ashamed of Him in this life, He will be ashamed of them at the judgment. This statement comes on the heels of His call for believers to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him, as well as His command for them to lose their lives for the sake of the gospel (vv. 34–35). There is no room for waffling here; it’s a matter of life and death. But the command is clear: Jesus wants disciples who wholeheartedly follow Him—who live in a way that is consistent with His life and teaching. This is more than rigid obedience. Jesus is after transformed hearts and people who are willing to stand unashamed of the truth in the face of opposition.