We recall the three crosses on the hill following the mockery of a trial and the humiliating processional. Jesus is positioned between two criminals. His mother and some of the disciples and women supporters are found with the spectators. They know his complete innocence and recoil at the hatred gathered against the friend of sinners, the herald of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Gospels tell us that initially the two thieves rail against Jesus insisting that he perform some miraculous rescue. Eventually one has eyes to see that Jesus forgives his tormentors and bears them no malice. He recognizes supernatural love in this, and the kingly bearing of the man in the middle. He asks to be remembered with mercy when Jesus inevitably enters into his Kingdom. The second thief sees only the reality of circumstances, misery and guilt.
Here is Jesus in the midst of all humanity. He offers free and complete forgiveness. Although blameless, he suffers for sin and in the grip of sin. Some recognize that he is offering supernatural pardon, and they experience repentance unto life. Others mock holiness as the choice of losers and opt for eternal darkness. There are no “fence-sitters” at Calvary.