Chapter 22 Jesus In The Midst

They crucified Him, and two other with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst (John 19:18).

There are several occasions when our Lord is spoken of as being in the midst. At the age of twelve He was found in the Temple “sitting in the midst of the doctors” (Luke 2:46). According to His own promise, He is “in the midst” of those who gather in His name (Matthew 18:20). After His resurrection He came and “stood in the midst” of His disciples (Luke 24:36). In John 19:18 He is on the cross between two thieves. The discerning spiritual eye can readily envisage many scenes where this is true. Some of these truths make the gospel a seed of life, a garden of pure comfort, a textbook of redeeming love.

In the Midst of Angels and Prophets

Concerning our Lord’s life of redeeming love here on earth, we read: “Which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12). Angels have lofty intellects, but the cross of the Lord Jesus baffles their understanding. It is beyond them. They peer, probe, search diligently, and are utterly amazed at seeing the sovereign Lord of glory in the poor garb of our human nature, at witnessing His stooping into the mystery of death—His dying so cruel a death for such undeserving rebels as we are. It simply astounds them.

Then, again, here on earth in Old Testament times there were prophets inquiring into the same mystery—“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you” (1 Peter 1:10). God told out His plan in figures, types, representations, and illustrations. Strong efforts were made by God to break down ignorance, to introduce pure light, to open up His way of salvation. So types and figures were profusely given. Every kind of figure was used to picture the coming Christ. The Spirit of God caused the prophets to speak thus of the Redeemer for whom they searched most diligently.

Our Lord was central—in the midst of all inquiries, both of angels above and prophets below.

In the Midst of God and Sinners

When we contemplate God in His majesty, we see upon His head the crown of pure and holy excellence. He is a just God. In His hand is an immeasurable roll, written within and without against us. It records all our sins. God would cease to be a just God if there were in Him any connivance with evil. Justice in His nature must demand that we pay what we owe.

The sinner has nothing with which to pay. We have nothing of our own but sin. Our attempt at payment would never lessen the vast amount of debt we owe for all our sins, no more than the removal of a daily grain would wear out the ocean sands.

The Lord Jesus comes in the midst of God and sinners, and in one sum discharges the whole debt. The claim against us ceases. The prisoner goes free. Justice revels in the cross, and God and man are reconciled through His blood shed there. The Saviour puts His hand on both God and man, and the gulf which separated them is spanned by Him.

In the Midst of the Old and New Covenants

The old covenant was a covenant of works. Man did not place that covenant in his heart but under his feet. He touched it only to break it and scatter it to the winds. The privileges under that covenant were instantly forfeited. We are not to dream idle dreams, as some do, that this covenant of works still lives, and that man can live through it and be justified by it. That is a broken reed—a foundation of sand.

The new covenant is a roll of divine blessings. It is clearly set forth in Jeremiah 31:33-34. It includes for the believer sanctification of spirit, adoption into God’s family, divine light, and eternal pardon. The believer may claim all these as God’s covenant pledge. But how can God, who is so high and so holy, whose very being is all perfection, whose home is eternity, contract with man who is so low, so vile, so loathsome—the offspring of all corruption?

The answer is that the Lord Jesus is in the midst. The covenant rests upon His work. It is written in unfading letters of eternal love, and is based upon God’s unchangeable purpose in His Son. It is made with Jesus as our Representative. He stands in the midst.

In the Midst of Friends and Foes

Friends were few at the cross. John, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and another, were about all that were left—a few friends who loved Him. There was a tremendous breakdown of human nature at the cross, and few there were who saw the Lord’s dying love, and His blood streaming to atone for human sin.

His foes were many. The priests were full of hate because of the Lord’s rebuke about their making clean the outside of the platter and because of His inveighing against their useless ceremonials which were mere play-acting. Pilate was wilting under fear of his master, Caesar, afraid of losing his job and the political goodwill of the Jews. Herod the king was mocking—a carnal, adulterous “fox,” as the Lord called him. The crowd was superficial—those who had cried “hosanna” were now crying “crucify” as though He were the basest of all. The soldiers—hardened gamblers—were at the foot of the cross, throwing dice for His vestments.

But Jesus is in the midst, and because He is, some, like the centurion, will cross from the company of His foes to the circle of His friends.

In the Midst of Saved and Damned

When Joseph was in prison two notable offenders were by his side. Human judgment discerned no difference. Both had offended. They were involved in Pharaoh’s displeasure, and both expected an ignominious end. But one mounts the path of favor and is crowned with honors, the other is left in bonds to perish (Genesis 40).

This is a signal to the distant wonders of the cross. There is a corresponding circumstance. Two thieves are crucified, one on either side of our Lord. But as they writhe in torment, Jesus is in the midst. A change takes place in one— as great as light from darkness, life from death. He loathes the sin which he had fondled. He confesses its malignity. He looks to Jesus and cries: “Lord, remember me!” that is, “Lord, I am perishing. Thou only canst save me!” And saved he is! “To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” The other perishes—hardened by his sufferings. Hell was near, but he neither saw, nor feared, nor shunned it.

Jesus! That name is Love,
Jesus, our Lord!
Jesus, all names above,
Jesus, the Lord!
Thou, Lord, our all must be;
Nothing that’s good have we,
Nothing apart from Thee,
Jesus, our Lord!

Righteous alone in Thee,
Jesus, the Lord!
Thou wilt a refuge be,
Jesus, our Lord!
Whom then have we to fear,
What trouble, grief, or care,
Since Thou art ever near?
Jesus, our Lord!

James G. Deck