It's been said that a man or a woman can be known by the company they keep. We’ve all heard this before. And that’s true. A lot can be known about Jesus by the company that He chooses to keep. When we read in the gospels the people that Jesus most often chose to associate with, they were sinners. They were people who were like lost sheep and had strayed away from God; and their lifestyle was anything but righteous. What does that tell us about Jesus?
And yet at the same time we can probably understand how that made the righteous people – or should I say the self-righteous – feel. And we can understand how the religious leaders of the day might say about Jesus, “Here’s a man that’s supposed to be pious, he’s supposed to be a teacher of Israel and yet he was associating with people who were reprobates.” The religious people were upset by the company that Jesus kept, and they said that really demonstrates his character.
What is striking about Jesus wasn’t just His teaching, wasn’t just His healing; it was above all else, how he would welcome, love, accept, embrace, and include everybody that came up to Him. We see in Jesus, and we see it throughout His ministry. In Luke 19:10 we find what we might call Jesus’ personal mission statement. Jesus said this, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.”
How fitting it is then that in death Jesus is still associating with people like that. On either side of Jesus as He hung on the cross were two men that the world had thrown away and condemned. And yet even when He’s dying, even when He could hardly breathe as He hangs in agony on the cross, Jesus is still reaching out to seek and to save that which was lost.
Join us on Sunday as we continue our Cross Words message series as we hear Jesus’ words of grace to the dying thief, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”