The Reproach of Christ
“He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26).
There are few figures more associated with the old covenant than Moses, the one chosen by God to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. The old covenant was so closely associated with Moses that in New Testament times one could ask, “What did Moses write?” in place of “What does the Law say?” (see Mark 10:3).
Because Moses is so pivotal for the old covenant, it is no wonder that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews explains how he is a model of persevering faith. Remember that the original audience of this epistle wanted to return to the old covenant. They wanted to return to the ceremonial observances of the Law because they were suffering persecution and disgrace for bearing the name of Christ. They thought they could be faithful to the example of Moses if they went back to the Law and followed it exactly as it was given.
The original audience wanted to turn away from the reproach of Christ. They wanted to turn away and leave the disgrace that He brought them by returning to the old covenant system. However, to do so would not evidence the same faithfulness as their hero, Moses, did. Hebrews 11:26 tells us that rather than turning away from the reproach of Christ, Moses embraced it. In fact, he considered this reproach to be “greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt.”
Verse 25 tells us how Moses embraced this reproach. Moses shunned the court of Pharaoh and identified with the suffering of his people who themselves were disgraced by suffering under slavery in Egypt. By leaving his position of prestige for scorn he imitated Jesus who left the privileges of glory and identified Himself with the suffering of His people under the bondage of pagan governments. Moreover, Jesus also bore the disgrace of being rejected by His people and by the world when He died on the cross for those who hated Him.
In some small way, Moses shared in these disgraces when he left the house of Pharaoh to intercede for Israel. Moses could do this because he was looking forward to his reward (v. 26). He knew that this disgrace would be only temporary but that the reward God offers would be eternal. This is the perspective of persevering faith that, in earnest anticipation of eternal reward, bears proudly the temporary disgraces and rejection that come with following Christ.
Have you embraced the reproach of Christ? Do you consider the shame that might come from following Him in the eyes of the world to be greater than all the world has to offer? Take some time to look at your life, and see if there are ways in which you can more visibly bear the reproach of Christ. In prayer, ask God to help you do so.
Passages for Further Study
- Jer. 20:1–2
- Matt. 6:19–21
- Mark 13:13
- 2 Cor. 12:10
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