“He was counted among the outlaws.” Luke 23:37
Anyone who recognizes the singular spiritual truth and commits to following the narrow path becomes, by nature, an outsider. They work outside the unwritten societal constructs, essentially becoming an outlaw. Jesus of Nazareth embodied this by being the essence of truth Himself. He walked entirely outside religious and societal norms and was perceived as a rebel, an outcast, and even a sinner, or what can be described as an outlaw. Consequently, those who follow Him also become outlaws.
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Though the description of Jesus as an ‘outlaw’ is thematically accurate, the scriptural context offers deeper insight:
Isaiah 53:12 states, “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors (or outlaws). For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Similarly, Luke 22:37 says, “For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors (or outlaws).’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”
These passages refer to Jesus being associated with transgressors, sometimes translated as “outlaws.”
This prophecy illustrates how Jesus, despite His sinlessness, would be treated as a common criminal. He was arrested, tried, and crucified between two criminals. By being “numbered with the transgressors (or outlaws),” Jesus was equated with the guilty, though He was innocent.
This holds theological importance, symbolizing Jesus taking on humanity’s sins, identifying with sinners, and making atonement for those sins. In being counted among the outlaws, He assumed the place of sinners and endured the punishment that was rightfully theirs.