Today, “In The Middle” is a phrase I’ve been pondering in John 19:16. There’s so much in those 3 words: “Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus “in the middle”.
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, we know that there were two criminals that were crucified with Him. At the cross, Jesus was “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12), one at his right side and one at his left. We would not be amiss in reasoning that the one criminal might represent unbelieving humanity who chooses to reject Christ, while the other represents believing humanity who sees the necessity of repentance and extends His hand to Jesus.
Moreover, both criminals insulted Jesus (Matt 27:44). However, after a time, one of the criminals had a change of heart and repented: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43) Although both men were in Jesus’ presence, only one man, even though a criminal, chose to receive Jesus and the unconditional love and eternal life He offered him.. “In the Middle” was such a key position for Jesus and it is also for us, as His image-bearers.
In another story “…when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ “NEITHER,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?’ The commander of the Lord’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua obeyed” (Joshua 5:13-15).
“NEITHER?” “Did He say neither?” What a startling response? “No choosing of sides?”… just focusing on a Holy God, on Holy ground, submitting in prayer, and obedient to God’s direction.
Today we see so much division and infighting among both believers and unbelievers. There is so much pressure to take sides and cancel out those who don’t follow suit. Today, I was imagining Jesus hanging on the cross” In the Middle” and thinking about all He represents: truth, unconditional love, faithfulness, peace, intercession and more. By the grace of God, may we choose to stand “In the Middle” surrendered to Jesus, and as He did on that cross: forgive our enemies, love the unlovable, share the truth of His Word with others, and cry out for the lost and those who persecute us. Lord may we not breed hatred and division through gossip, judgment of others, condemnation and self-righteousness. Father, persecution has escalated and the Great Accuser is trying with all His might to divide, tear down and destroy the churches, the believers, our witness and our ministries. May we not be entangled in taking sides, but rather position ourselves “In the Middle” with Jesus. By no means is this a weakened, inactive position. If we believe that, then perhaps we do not understand the fullness of the power that resides within us. May the Holy Spirit strengthen us to take an active position “In the Middle “with Jesus. After all, the One “In the Middle” arose, and in that one single, power-filled moment, mankind was changed forever !
Blessings to you,