“And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘and he was numbered among transgressors.’ (Is 53:12) Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’” (Mk 15: 27-30)
So Jesus died as He lived, “among transgressors.” That is to say, among us. But the line between those truly “with Him” and those “not with Him” is not drawn in terms of “righteousness” and “sinfulness.” No. The difference between those truly with Him and those not with Him lies in self-perception. There are “transgressors” in this picture who feel entitled and self-righteous, like the passers-by who “derided Him,” together with one of the bandits crucified with Him, while another, the repentant one, acknowledges that “we are getting what we deserve for our deeds” (Lk 23: 41).
On this Friday, the day of the Lord’s crucifixion, I’m thinking about this “place” in which our Lord chose to be, “among transgressors.” He went to this “place” not because He had to, not because He “was getting what He deserved for His deeds”; He placed Himself there, among us, to bring us out of that place, together with Him. And He shows me this “way out,” this way toward His light, which involves two essential steps: 1. Acknowledgment of my “place,” my place as a true transgressor; and 2. Acknowledgment of His “way out,” with a willingness to take His outstretched hand and follow.
Today let me acknowledge, in humble self-acceptance, my place “among transgressors,” so I can both receive help, and help others, if need be, from a place of humility and weakness. Because this is the place from which our Lord offered Himself to us. “Remember me, Lord,” I say today, “when You come into Your kingdom.”