In the OT, the word honour and its derivatives occur 115 times, and 73 times in the NT. Jabez, for example, is specially remembered —
There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. – 1 Chronicles 4:9
Sinning tends to be perceived, according to the evidence of the Bible, as the violating of honour. In the case of Amnon’s physical assault on his sister, a sense of shame pervades her being, although she has done no wrong. She pleads with him not to rape her, predicting the sure result in terms of a shattering of her honour —
“Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me.” – 2 Samuel 13:13
Job’s confused complaint about his situation revolves around the fact that God has stripped him of his honour and yet the upright man is unaware of any disloyalty on his part.
Was Jesus willing to suffer unjust shame? The Son proves willing in the garden of Gethsemane. Hours later, at Calvary —
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. – Hebrews 12:2
Not long after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, His apostles are twice arrested for preaching in His name in the centre of Jerusalem —
The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. Acts 5:41
One of the loveliest parables in the NT is often lost on Western Christians who have learned to see it only in terms of the prodigal son. Jesus’ own introduction should at least warn us that as much attention should be paid to the two other main characters in the story —
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. – Luke 15:11
The story is about disloyalty, the breakdown of commitment to family and kin. HIs words and actions are unthinkable, shameful. Supremely in this story, as told by Jesus, shame is featured in the father’s willing embrace of it.
Heaven’s answer is to come in the Son to be dishonoured, to embrace the shame, to be beaten to death.