Author: Joshua Lee, English Pastor, Chinese for Christ, Hayward
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him. (Luke 23:32-33a, NIV)
People are known by the company they keep. That’s partly why parents are concerned about their kids’ friends, why the workplace is filled with office politics and shifting alliances, why we gravitate to people with common interests. We want to be surrounded by “the right people.” Perhaps you feel, “that’s not me.” Consider for a moment, who do you prefer to spend time with and who do you avoid? Why? We all have conscious and unconscious filters for who we want around us (your time and energy are limited) and what their company says about us.
Jesus has a funny view of “the right people.” In this passage, our attention is directed to how His company shifts from insiders (who think they don’t need Messiah) to outsiders, criminals. If replacing the murderous Barabbas and the form of execution are any hint, Jesus is being thrown in with society’s worst, deemed unworthy to live. But no armed guard or mob forces Him to identify with criminals (cf. 22:37); He chooses to lay down His life (cf. John 10:14-18), to seek the company of the broken, the lost, the sinful (cf. Luke 5:31-32; 19:10). The Holy One, who breathed all Creation into existence and before whom even kings and angels bow, sees all who rebel against Him, criminals deserving a death sentence before God, and chooses to be with them. You are that criminal; so am I.
What’s the best part? This Humble King not only associates with us, He faces death with us at a place called “the Skull;” though blameless, He’s crucified alongside transgressors like us. He willingly suffers and dies to restore real life to us.
Jesus is picky about the company He keeps. He picks people like you and me, death row criminals, and meets us where we are.
The ISAAC 2009 Lenten Devotional, edited by Rev. Dr. Johnson Chiu. This devotional was written by Asian American English ministry leaders and pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. To purchase, click here: Road of Suffering, Road to Glory: A Lenten Adventure with the Savior