“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Mark 15:31). It is because Christ would not save Himself that the sinner has any hope of pardon or favor with God. If, in His undertaking to save the sinner, Christ had failed or become discouraged, the last hope of every son and daughter of Adam would have been at an end. The entire life of Christ was one of self-denial and self-sacrifice; and the reason that there are so few stalwart Christians is because of their self-indulgence and self-pleasing in the place of self-denial and self-sacrifice.
Oh, what soul hunger and longing had Christ to save that which was lost! The body crucified upon the cross did not detract from His divinity, His power of God to save through the human sacrifice, all who would accept His righteousness. In dying upon the cross, He transferred the guilt from the person of the transgressor to that of the divine Substitute through faith in Him as his personal Redeemer. The sins of a guilty world, which in figure are represented as “red as crimson,” were imputed to the divine Surety. . .
Divinity was doing its work while humanity was suffering from the hatred and revenge of a God-hating people, because Christ had acknowledged Himself the Son of God. He alone could respond to the poor suffering thief. He alone was free to undertake the suretyship of the guilty criminal. The dying Redeemer saw him to be far less guilty than the ones who had condemned Him to death, far less guilty than the priests, the scribes, and rulers who had taken an active part in demanding the death of the Son of God.
What a faith had that dying thief upon the cross! He accepted Christ when apparently it was an utter impossibility that He should be the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. In the prayer of the poor thief, there was a note different from that which was sounding on every side; it was a note of faith, and it reached to Christ. The faith of the dying man in Him was as sweetest music in the ears of Christ. The glad note of redemption and salvation was heard amid His dying agonies. God was glorified in and through His Son.
From Devotional: Our Father Cares, pp. 240, 241.