"He was Numbered with Transgressors"

"And when they came to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left" (Luke 23:33).

They searched the prison cells of Jerusalem that morning for the most debased of all the criminals that that city contained, and they led them out to die along with Jesus. These men had been guilty of appalling crimes, and that was why they were chosen to hang one on His right hand and the other on His left; that was why they put Him upon the centre and highest cross. They meant to proclaim by their well-considered and malicious plan that He was the worst of the three. Thus did they heap shame upon Him, adding deepest insult to deepest injury.

But I am glad that such men as these, and not James and John, were taken to be His companions on that day; in this the devil showed his lack of foresight, and in this he was outwitted, for if they had crucified the sons of Zebedee one on His right hand and the other on His left, it would have been said that they were helping Him to finish His work of redemption. The devil would have deceived men, now that Jesus is proclaimed as a Saviour, and would have said: These holy men, His disciples, had their share in His work, so that you must not trust in Him alone, but trust also in St. John and St. James, for they are worthy of as much glory as He.

Such a deception cannot now be practised upon weary, anxious sinners, those murderers who hung with Him could have no hand in the work that He was doing. They were suffering for their own crimes, He, the sinless One, for yours and mine.

"Alone He bore the Cross,
  Alone its grief sustained;
His was the shame and loss,
  And He the victory gained.
The mighty work was all His own,
Though we shall share His glorious throne."

Yes, Jesus is the Saviour, and He alone. Behold Him there upon that cross, the darkness and shame of His surroundings only throwing into brighter relief the glory of His person. See Him "numbered with the transgressors," bearing the sin of many, and praying for His foes! How worthy is He of that name which is above every name!

Behold Him, the central object of man's hatred; all the unspeakable enmity of men against God flung upon Him in scorn and shame and cruelty unrestrained, and, that, too, in the very hour when He stood forth as the infinite expression of God's love to men. Truly, as we look upon Him there, every other actor in that solemn scene fades from the view and He stands out alone in the incomparable glory of His own divine and unconquerable love.

Yet what an evidence it is of the utter darkness of the heart of unregenerate man, and of His complete alienation from God, that he should have heaped shame and execration upon the One who is the most glorious and everlastingly blessed Person in God's universe, that he should have condemned Him to die between two malefactors upon a shameful cross, in whom was centred the eternal delight of the heart of the Father.