top of page
  • Writer's pictureScott Allen

The Man on the Middle Cross

Three Crosses

I heard Rhett Walker’s song on the radio today, Man on the Middle Cross. The lyrics speak to what we celebrate on Good Friday…

Verse 1 

I heard the preacher talking

 About three wooden crosses

 Up on a hill for everyone to see

 Two sinners on the outside

 Couldn't save themselves if they tried

 All I could think is man

 That sounds like me… 

These lyrics speak to the central event in human history. Three crosses with Jesus in the middle, and two criminals on either side. Even while dying on their own crosses, the criminals felt compelled to debate their opinions about Jesus. This scene also reflects how we relate to Jesus today. Which of these two criminals sounds most like you?

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

Luke 23:39 NIV

The criminal shouts, “Aren’t you the Messiah?” He mockingly demanded that if Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah were true, then Jesus should save all three of them. Turns out that Jesus fulfilled both requests. 

Before the cross, Jesus revealed his divine nature through his miracles, his teaching, and even his clear prediction of the timing and nature of his crucifixion. After the cross, Jesus proved his divinity by fulfilling his prediction about the exact timing of his resurrection and by appearing to more than 500 people after Roman soldiers crucified Him (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-8). 

Differently than the criminal demanded, Jesus was determined to fulfill His Father’s plan of spiritually saving mankind, 

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” 

John 6:40 NIV

The great irony here is that by determining to stay nailed to the cross, Jesus accomplishes the criminal’s request. He took on your sin, mine, and the world’s, paying the consequence that we deserve. 

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.

    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.

 Yet the Lord laid on him

    the sins of us all. 

Isaiah 53:6 NLT

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 

Colossians 2:14 NLT

Spiritually speaking, we are just like the two criminals. We have made bad decisions and messed up. We are also guilty. In that sense, these two men sound a lot like me. As we look at Jesus on the cross today, how will we respond? Will we mock him and demand our own way or will we humbly accept that in love, He chose to stay nailed to the cross. He chose to pay the price that I owed. 

While the criminal on one side mocked Jesus, the criminal on the other side of Jesus, had a moment of clarity while he was dying. 

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 23:42-43 NIV

Two criminals, two opposing responses to Jesus. 

Why does the very name, Jesus, evoke such a strong response? I mean, most people after meeting me don’t normally mock me or ask me to be their eternal Savior! But why is this the case with Jesus? 

Today I met with a group of people working through various addictions, they too had their opinions about Jesus. For one person, Jesus stands as one “god” among many. For another, following Jesus means leaving behind a destructive lifestyle – but he wondered if Jesus would be greater than his temptation. For yet another, they exchanged Jesus for a popular lifestyle of self-medicating; unfortunately, they learned the hard lesson that self-medicating couldn’t save them. Another said, “I want to accept Christ as my personal Savior.” Do any of these sound like you?

In the chorus of the song, Rhett Walker writes…


I've been the one on the left

 Full of guilt and regret

 Long gone on the wrong side of livin’

 I've been the one on the right

 Always looking for a fight

 Thinking I could never be forgiven


One of my favorite quotes concerning this most important question, “Who is Jesus?”, comes from the great C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity

Lewis writes, “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Translation: A person who claims to be God, who performs miracles, who fulfills hundreds of prophecies that no other human could fulfill, and who predicts the exact nature and timing of their own crucifixion and resurrection, deserves more than a casual response! 

Walker ends the chorus with his personal decision…

I'm standing here today

 Overwhelmed by grace

 Cause I know who paid my cost

 Thank God

 For the man on the middle cross

As you think about Jesus on the cross, remember that we are the ones on the left and the right of Him. We are the ones unable to save ourselves. Thankfully, Jesus stayed on the cross for you. He died in your place. If this Good News overwhelms you with gratitude, take a moment to thank God for the man on the middle cross.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for forgiving me and for giving me eternal life. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and my Lord. Come into my life and change me from the inside out. You paid my cost and I thank God for the man on the middle cross!

263 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page