“For whosoever shall be ASHAMED of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26 KJV)
The word “ashamed” here in the Greek is ‘epaischynomai‘ and Strongs concordance shows the meaning as ‘with the accusative of a person and the infinitive of a thing’. Jesus is talking about those who are accusing Him that He is not the Messiah but a false prophet. That is a serious offence indeed.
An interesting note about this passage using the King James Bible is that when you compare Mark’s account we see something more specific.
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words IN THIS ADULTEROUS AND SINFUL GENERATION; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38 KJV)
Mark is stating Jesus said, “IN THIS…GENERATION”. Jesus is speaking DIRECTLY to the Jewish people during the time of His ministry. The context becomes clearer when we go back verses to see the context.
“31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man MUST SUFFER many things, and BE REJECTED of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and BE KILLED, and after three days rise again.
32 And he spake that SAYING OPENLY. And Peter took him, and began TO REBUKE HIM.
33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words IN THIS ADULTEROUS AND SINFUL GENERATION; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
The Jewish people of THAT generation expected the Messiah to come in power and glory to be king. For some reason they ignored the prophecies about the suffering that the coming Messiah would have to go through. They did not expect Him to come in meekness, being humble as He did. To them Jesus words did not line up to what they envisioned the Messiah would be like when He came.
Peter was, just beforehand in Mark 8, the only disciple to answer Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” with the correct answer “The Messiah”. Yet here we see Peter rebuked Jesus when He stated He would suffer and die. And then we see a chilling verse when Jesus replies to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan”. Peter believed Christ was the Messiah but not that He would have to suffer and die. This was not what the Jewish people envisioned of the Messiah. Peter likely thought that as the Messiah, Jesus was about to take over and vanquish the Romans ruler-ship over them. This was the belief in that day and we know it to be wrong today as Jesus did die on the cross for our sins and rose again. Jesus knew just how horrible the suffering was going to be and Satan was trying to tempt him to not go through with it. Peter was seeing as the Jewish people were seeing and not as God sees and planned for Jesus and Christ’s reply to Peter is “for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
Jesus then calls other people to come and hear Him speak and tells them not to reject Him but to pick up their cross daily and follow Him despite what the common view of the day and the teachings of the Pharisees and Scribes was. Jesus says to DENY THEMSELVES. The Pharisees and Jewish people believed that it was their self righteous Law keeping that would save them. Yet, within they all still had a debt of sins to be paid for. Jesus then warns them to not reject Him as the result will not be a good one as they thought and instead tells them,
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words IN THIS ADULTEROUS AND SINFUL GENERATION; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
This passage in Mark 8 is directed solely at THAT GENERATION in specific. That said, the warning of rejecting Christ applies to all people in our generation as well. If a person relies on their own goodness or self righteous works or religious rituals (all of which is SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS), thinking it will save them because they are less sinners than others; the result is the same. If in unbelief a person rejects the free gift of Salvation through Christ, without works required (Ephesians 2:8-9), the end result for them will be Christ rejecting them when He comes back in glory at the Second Coming of Christ in our future.
Jesus gave a grave warning about this because their very Salvation is at risk if they continue believing that Law keeping will save them. Jesus gave another strong warning about the belief that Self Righteousness will save a person in Matthew 7 where we see a person is not saved by what they DO but by belief on Christ and His atonement for our sin (John 3:14-18, 36).
To those in that generation, and to those in our generation, who reject Christ because they think they are good enough on their own merit they will one day, at the White Throne Judgement, hear the most horrifying words of Jesus,
“…I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23 KJV)
This need not be you hearing these words. Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world and that includes your life long list of sins. God became flesh in the person of Jesus, The Christ, who lived a perfectly sinless life and willingly died on the cross to take the punishment for the sins of the whole world. And Jesus says to Nicodemus and to you,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that BELIEVETH ON HIM is not condemned: but he that BELIEVETH NOT is condemned ALREADY, because he hath NOT BELIEVED in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 KJV)
Trust in the finished work of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and not in your own ‘goodness’, nor your good works, nor any religious ritual. BELIEVE on what Christ already accomplished for you on the cross and God will forgive all your sins (past/present/future) and SEAL you from the very moment of your belief (Ephesians 1:13-14) and MAKE YOU the very righteousness of God, in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). If you believe on Christ alone to save you from the penalty of your sins this is true of you now, whether you feel it or not:
God says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12 KJV)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ” (Romans 8:1 KJV)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corithians 5:17)
This NEW CREATURE is the new you now in the Spirit within. You still reside in this sinful flesh body but now the new you, the Spirit, will war with the evil flesh desires. When you sin, you are going to feel guilty. When you are about to sin, you will have that small voice telling you to resist. Yes, you will fall and fail and still sin. But the Holy Spirit will chastise you and teach you over time. Renew your mind by reading the Word of God to see the truth and it will set you free.