Christ’s Glory Turned To Shame
“O you sons of men, how long will you turn My Glory into shame?”
DAVID had many times been the subject of cruel mockery and, therefore, while writing this Psalm probably in the first place about himself, he also described in it one of the bitterest of our Savior’s sufferings. What an illustration this is of the union which exists between Christ and His people in the matter of experience! He had a Cross to bear and so have they. He was “despised and rejected of men,” and so are they. The Church of God is not like the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, which had a head of gold and feet of iron and clay, but as is the Head, such are also the members. As the Head had to endure cruel mocking, the members must not expect to be exempted from similar treatment. This is why so many of the Psalms of David are equally applicable to David and to his Lord. And I believe that we have, in this verse, a reference not only to David, himself, but also to “great David’s greater Son.” In the case of both of them, the sons of men turned their glory into shame, but I want especially to call to your remembrance the sufferings of our Savior in this respect.
- So, in the first place, notice that EVERYTHING ABOUT OUR SAVIOR THAT WAS GLORIOUS WAS MADE THE SUBJECT OF SCORN.
Begin with His glorious Person, and think how shamefully that was treated by the sons of men in the time of Hishumiliation. He was betrayed, but the betrayer was one who had been His disciple and who, in the very act of betrayal called Him, “Master.” This was shameful cruelty on the part of Judas, not only to betray Him to His enemies, but to hail Him as “Master,” in mockery and to kiss Him in scorn. There was shame even in the way in which they went to Gethsemane to arrest the Savior–with swords and staves, lanterns and torches–as though He had been some desperate malefactor who would resist to the utmost the officers of the law. No lanterns or torches were needed to show the way to the Light of the World! And their swords and staves would have availed them nothing if He had chosen to put forth His Omnipotent power! When He was dragged before Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod, His precious Person was the constant subject of scorn, so that He could truly say, “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting.” “The soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They put on Him a purple robe and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they struck Him with their hands.” And when Pilate brought Him forth to the people and cried, “Behold the Man!” instead of pitying Him in His distress, they shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” His agonies upon the Cross provided further subjects for their contempt and scorn. He could truthfully employ the language of the 22 nd Psalm–“All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shootout the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.” They looked upon His Person as being so utterly contemptible that they desired that He should suffer death in its most ignominious form, “even the death of the Cross.”
And while they treated thus shamefully the Human Person of our Lord, we cannot forgot the jeers and taunts with which they assailed His Deity. When He said, “Hereafter shall you see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven,” the high priest tore his clothes and charged Him with being a blasphemer, while the whole assembly declared that He was guilty of death! And to show their contempt for Him, “then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands.” Even when He was enduring all the agony of the crucifixion, we read that, “they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross.” Was it not sufficient to degrade His spotless Humanity? No, the Glory of His Deity must also be turned into shame–in both His Natures, as Son of God and Son of Man, He must be “despised and rejected of men.” Alas that for so long the Prophet’s words were true concerning us, “we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not.”
Not only was Christ’s blessed Person thus despised, but all His offices were the subject of scorn. I do but tell youwhat you all well know. I do but point you to the picture upon which you have often gazed. Remember how they mocked Him as a Prophet. “When they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that struck you?” They treated His prophetic office as though it had only been worthy of a jest or a jeer. He claimed to be the King of the Jews, so with ribald shouts they cried, “A king! Bring here His throne and seat Him upon it! Bring His royal robes and let Him be fitly adorned.” Their idea of fitness was some soldier’s discarded mantle cast over His shoulders in mockery of the royal purple. They put a reed into His hand as a mock scepter. And the only crown they thought worthy for Him to wear was made of thorns! To show their contempt for His royalty, they mockingly bowed the knee before Him and rendered Him only the semblance of homage. The only gifts they brought to Him were cruel blows and coarse insults which must have been peculiarly trying to His gentle, gracious spirit. I must not stay to tell how they turned the Glory of His office as our Great High Priest into shame, but all His offices were treated with the utmost contempt and scorn.
They even laughed contemptuously at His deeds of love. “The chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others. Himself He cannot save.” It seems to me that they meant thus to cast contempt upon His miracles of mercy. “He saved others.” Yes, that He did, He saved the famishing by multiplying the loaves and fishes and feeding thousands of people! He saved the sick by touching them or by speaking the word which made them perfectly whole! He saved even the dead by calling them back from the unseen world to live again in the abodes where they had before lived! Yet all these miracles of mercy are now to have contempt poured upon them because He does not choose to come down from the Cross at the mocking call of the scoffing priests and scribes and elders! “O you sons of men, how long will you turn His Glory into shame?” It was His Glory that He had saved others and it was also His Glory that He could not save Himself–yet both of these were turned into subjects for shame by those who had no pity for Him even when they had hounded Him to His death!
Perhaps it was worst of all when these wicked men scoffed at Christ’s pangs and prayers. If you have hurt yourselfand someone laughs at the accident, you feel indignant. If you are tossing to and fro upon a bed of sickness and someone sneers at your pains, you know how such unkindness cuts you to the quick. If you were dying and in your agony you cried aloud to God–and somebody ridiculed your prayer–it would be a terrible trial to you. So must it have been to Christ when He was dying upon the Cross, forsaken by His friends, forsaken even by His Father because He was then occupying the place that we ought to have occupied. Then, when He uttered that heart-melting cry, “Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani?”–“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”–the heartless spectators made a sort of pun upon His words and mockingly said that He was calling Elijah, though many of them must have recognized the quotation from the beginning of the 22 nd Psalm! To mock a man’s prayers when he is dying seems to me the very lowest depth of cruel contempt! I do not remember ever reading of any other mob but this one that was so brutal as to turn into mockery the last cries of One who was in his death agony! Yet, at Calvary, the last expiring groans of our blessed Savior were the subject of the mocking mirth of the rabble around the Cross. How all this must have pained His sensitive spirit and made Him cry out with David, “O you sons of men, how long will you turn My Glory into shame?”
II. NOW, secondly, THE GLORY WHICH CHRIST OUGHT TO HAVE RECEIVED AMONG MEN WAS RENDERED TO HIM ONLY IN SHAME.
A German writer has given us an outline of the way in which worldlings mockingly honored Christ. First of all, he says, they gave Him a procession of honor. When a victorious general returns from the wars, he rides through the streetsamidst the plaudits of the crowds that gather to welcome him. And when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was to be honored by the world, He also had a procession, and what a procession it was! “He bearing His Cross went forth”…“and there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him.” That weeping and wailing company of the daughters of Jerusalem was the only element of real honor in the whole procession–all the rest was mockery and shame–and what a shameful thing it was! O men of the world, if you had known that He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, would you have crucified the Lord of Glory? Instead of a band of children and a fickle mob strewing palm branches in His way and crying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” kings and princes, judges and senators ought to have felt honored by being allowed to cast their royal robes and costly garments in His road, that He might ride in state over them amid the welcoming shouts of the whole race of mankind! Instead of that, see the poor weary Man of Sorrows painfully toiling on and presently sinking beneath the burden of the Cross on which He was about to die in ignominy and shame–while all around Him the clamorous multitude is hoarsely crying, “Away with Him! Crucify Him!!” That was the kind of procession of honor that men gave to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Next, they gave Him a cup of honor. When a great man comes as a visitor from a foreign country, it is the custom tohonor him with a grand banquet and other marks of hospitality. But when Christ came to this earth on a mission of mercy, what did they give Him? First, a stupefying draft which He would not drink, for He would not have any of His powers deadened by any drug. And then, when He was so parched that He cried, “I thirst,” “they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.” And Luke expressly says that this was done in mockery by the soldiers, who at the same time tauntingly said to the Savior , “If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” Thus again men turned His Glory into shame.
Then, they gave Him a guard of honor. Men who have performed deeds of renown often have a bodyguard allottedto them to attend them wherever they go and to ensure their safety where they stay. But what bodyguard did the world allot to the Savior–a guard of gamblers! The soldiers parted His other garments among them, and then cast lots–probably throwing dice–to see which of them should have His seamless coat, little thinking that they were thus fulfilling the prophecy that had been written hundreds of years before! But what a guard was this for Him who was King of kings, and Lord of lords–rough, cruel men whose hearts had been shriveled and in whose breasts no sign of tenderness remained! Thus also was His Glory turned into shame.
Then, they gave Him a seat of honor. We are accustomed to conduct our noble visitors to the platform at the end ofthe hall and to lead them to the chair of state or the most honorable position we can find. And the world conducted its honored Guest down the Via Dolorosa with a bodyguard of gamblers around Him up to the seat of honor! There it is–the accursed tree! He will have little rest there, for the great nails will be roughly thrust through the most tender parts of His hands and feet, making every nerve in His body quiver with pain! And then, as they brutally jerk the Cross down into the hole prepared for it, His whole frame will be so jarred and shaken that He will cry out, in the language of the Psalmist, “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint.” Thus they turned His Glory into shame.
Then, once more, they gave Him a title of honor. When the Queen wishes to put special honor upon any of her subjects, she makes them knights, or baronets, or peers of the realm. But the world only thought Christ worthy of the title of “King of thieves.” You will perhaps tell me that they called Him, “the King of the Jews.” It was Pilate who did that, and he would not alter it even when the chief priest asked him not do so. But the Jewish and Gentile world practically called Him “King of thieves” by crucifying Him between two thieves as though He had been the worst of the three. He was no thief. He had never injured anyone, but had scattered blessings broadcast with both His hands. He had given Himself and all that He had to save the lost, yet their called Him, “King of thieves,” by their actions if not by their words. Thus again they turned His Glory into shame.
O Beloved, I wish I could speak upon this theme in appropriate language! Yet I feel that there is no tongue that can adequately describe the Savior’s griefs, and no pen or pencil that can worthily depict Him in His agonies! You must yourselves sit down at the foot of the Cross and look, and look, and look again at your blessed Lord and Master as He hung there for your sakes. It used to be more common than it is now for godly men and women to spend hour after hour in solemn meditation upon the agonies of Christ upon the Cross. I tried, one day when I was alone, to get a vivid realization of that awful tragedy–and I succeeded to the breaking of my own heart–but I cannot describe the scene to you. That is a matter for private meditation rather than for public speech. So, when many of us gather presently around the Table of our Lord in obedience to one of His last commands, let us try to realize what it meant to Him when wicked men turned His Glory into shame even when He was in the very throes of His death agony.
When the Savior was nailed to the accursed tree, there was a great crowd before Him composed of all sorts of people from the chief priests and scribes and Pharisees down to the lowest rabble of Jerusalem. And there were doubtless, as on the day of Pentecost, “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians.” How did this great mixed multitude treat the august Sufferer upon the Cross? I have already quoted to you our Lord’s own words, “All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn.” And Mark further says, “They that passed by railed at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, You that destroys the Temple, and builds it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the Cross.” With the exception of a little band of timid disciples, all that vast crowd exerted itself to the utmost by hideous gestures and grimaces and by cruel taunts and jeers, to show its contempt and scorn for the Christ of God, His only-begotten and well-beloved Son! I suppose this great congregation now gathered in the Tabernacle is but a mere handful in comparison with the enormous throngs that assembled to see that great sight, but if I had to be the unhappy victim of the malice and scorn of all of you–if you were all seeking by some word of contempt or expression of loathing and hatred, to set me at nothing and mock me–what a dreadful position mine would be! But this was not the treatment accorded to a man in full vigor of health and strength, as I am just now, who might be able to defy his foes to do their worst, or who might stand unmoved amidst the hail of calumny and obloquy! Christ’s was the case of One who was dying in indescribable agony, forsaken even of His God–and you can hardly conceive how such an experience as that takes all one’s strength away. Yet, do you know? As I meditated upon this sad scene–while my eyes were streaming with tears on the Savior’s account, it seemed to me that the ribald crowd was unconsciously honoring Him, after all, because contempt from such people was true honor for Jesus. If they had applauded Him, He might have blushed at the disgrace of being praised by such miscreants! But when they despised and rejected Him, it brought Him true honor! Thus virtue received the homage of vice and the beauty of holiness was the more plainly manifested in contrast with the ugliness of sin! They must have felt that although they seemed to be victorious over Him, Christ was really the Conqueror, or they would not have been so anxious to show how much they despised Him. They must have had some sort of consciousness of the true dignity of His Character or they would not have vented their malice so ferociously in mocking Him.
While I have been trying to bring before your minds this picture of the suffering Savior, as it has been all vividly present to my own mental vision, I wonder if anyone here has been saying, “Oh, Sir, I also have to endure the cruel mocking of the ungodly! They call me this name and that, and I feel that I cannot endure it.” What? Are you–
“A soldier of the Cross,
A follower of the Lamb”–
and do you need to turn coward when they mete out to you something of the treatment that they gave to Him? Look at your Master in the hour of His agony on the Cross and never be afraid again! Remember how He forewarned His followers concerning this very matter–“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house, Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” Cheerfully accept all the contempt and scorn that the world pleases to pour upon you–take it as a tribute to the likeness to Christ that even worldlings can see in you–and praise the Lord that you are counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s name’s sake!
Perhaps some self-righteous person says, “I wish I had been there. I would have taught those miserable wretches not to treat the Savior in such a shameful fashion!” Ah, that is the way one of our English kings once talked. “I wish,” said he, “that I had been there with my soldiers–I would have cut them in pieces!” But somebody who stood by said, “Ah, that speech shows that you have not yet learned how to be like He.” He could have cut them all in pieces in a moment! He could have asked for more than 12 legions of angels to come to His rescue! But how, then, could He have accomplished the purpose for which He came to this earth? And how would the Scriptures have been fulfilled? It was written concerning Him, seven centuries before His birth, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opens not His mouth.” And that prophecy was literally fulfilled when He stood silent before Caiaphas and before Pilate, and when He endured without a murmur all the insults of the mocking crowd at Calvary!
I think I hear someone say, “If I had been there, I would not have mocked the Savior as they did.” Ah my Friend, I am not so sure that you would not! Do you love Him now? Do you love His people? Do you love His ways? Do you love His Word? Do you love His House? Do you love Him? If you do not, I do not see why you should imagine that you would have behaved better than most of the men and women at that time did. You would not have known the Lord of Life and Glory any more than they did, and you would probably have joined them in heaping scorn and contumely upon Him! His stern rebukes of your sin would have made you as angry as they were. “He that is not with Me is against Me,” is still one of the infallible tests by which He tries the sons of men! And if you are not with Him, you are against Him! If you are not out-and-out for Him, you are mocking Him in your way even as the Jews did in theirs!
Possibly somebody asks, “Why did the Savior endure all that mockery and scorn?” Ah, some of us can tell! We once mocked religion and perhaps even poured contempt upon the name of Jesus, so He was mocked even while He was making Atonement for our sin of mockery! Besides, sin is always so contemptible a thing that it ought to be held up to derision by all sane men–and as Christ took upon Himself the sins of all His people–it was necessary that He should be despised even when He was only by imputation bearing the sins of others–
“For sins not His own
He came to atone”
and, therefore, as the Sin-Bearer, the Substitute for His people, He had to bear all the scorn that their sins deserved.
Now, in closing, I say to you, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, your Master has been despised for your sakes, mind that you greatly honor Him. He was made nothing of, as far as that was possible to men–see that you make much of Him. For every thorn that pierced His blessed temples, give Him some precious pearl that you highly prize. For every hiss of scorn that greeted His holy ears, give Him a song of grateful praise. Oh, how I wish that we could continually lift Him up higher and higher before the sons and daughters of men! If He would but make us as the dust beneath His feet so that He might be exalted so much more in the eyes of sinners, we would count it our highest Glory to be trampled beneath His feet. Oh, for more crowns to put upon His blessed head!–
“Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne.”
It shall be the Heaven of Heaven to us when He gives us the crown of life, the crown of righteousness and the crown of glory, and we cast them all at His feet crying, “Not unto us, O Lord, be the Glory,” but, “unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father. To Him be Glory and dominion forever and ever.” But why not begin to honor Him here? I hope many of us are doing so already, but let us do it more and more! O Lamb of God, bleeding, languishing, despised, rejected, what can I do to honor You more than I have ever done before? Is not that the language of your heart, my Brother, my Sister? Come to His Table and honor Him by obeying this as well as all His other commandments, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” And then go tomorrow into the world wherever your business and your duty call you, and say–
Now for the love I bear His name
What was my gain I count my loss.
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His Cross.
Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake–
Oh, may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake."
Is there anyone here who has despised and rejected the Lord Jesus Christ? Alas, I fear that many, even in this assembly, have done so. Have you set Him at nothing? Have you thought nothing of Him? Have you mocked Him? Have you put a crown of thorns upon His head? Oh, if you have hitherto been numbered among His enemies, quit their ranks this very hour, bend your knees before Him in true homage and submission, give Him your hearts to be His royal throne, give Him yourselves to be His loyal subjects and servants forever! Look unto Him as He was upon the Cross and as He is upon the Throne of God! Trust Him with your whole heart, for whoever believes in Him has everlasting life! God bless you all, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.