A Seat Among Sinners
Because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12b)
They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. (Mark 15:27)
A Seat Among Sinners
“How am I to live without my name? I have given you my soul but give me my name.” These are among the last words of John Proctor in the play the Crucible. Pride and reputation were his fatal flaws. He had built up his reputation so that to say his name was to say “a good and noble man.” However, lustful temptation led to an affair with Abigail Williams, and he feared it would bring his reputation to ruin. He tried to fix the situation while keeping his affair quiet to protect his public image but realized his soul was on the line. In the end, he confessed his sin while refusing to sign a false confession that would help end the witch hysteria. He gave up his reputation for the sake of forgiveness.
Names and reputation are a big deal to us in this life. A name is a key identifying feature that also describes who you are as a person. We spend our entire life building and maintaining what we hope is a good reputation. As a result, we stay away from the people who would stain our reputation. This was the same in Jesus’ day. The people would actively avoid someone with public sin because to be near them would also bring down your image. To be with these types of people (tax collector, thief, adulterer) is to label yourself unclean.
Jesus never let worldly reputation stop him from carrying out the work he came to accomplish. He cared for the adulterers (John 8). He healed the lame and blind, ailments that the people thought resulted from the parents’ sin (John 9). He ate with tax collectors (Matthew 9). These people were hated in society because they were considered thieves and scoundrels. The Pharisees even chastised Jesus for associating himself with that type of person. That did not stop him. At his death, the Pharisees tried to break Jesus’ reputation by giving him a criminal status as he hung between two criminals. However, this did not harm, it fortified his reputation.
All through Jesus’ life, he made a name for himself that exemplified love. Jesus’ reputation never faltered, especially as he hung on the cross between the two criminals. Those are the very people that Jesus came to this world. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31). It is not the perfect who needs a Savior. It is the sinful, the people with a bad reputation. It is fitting that in his death, Jesus would die among criminals. One final testimony to why Jesus gave up his place in heaven. He gave up his life for the very people with whom he was crucified. Jesus was the person who sought out the lost, the thief, murderer, hater, liar, and gossiper. These are the people that Jesus came to save.
Song: Man of No Reputation by Rick Ellias
Prayer Suggestions: Praise God for not letting what we have done stop him from loving the world enough to send his son. Ask God to help you love with the same intensity.