In the following article, Gary Puryear, talks about the thieves that were crucified with Jesus. We know that only two different men were crucified at the same time as Jesus was, but Gary discusses four different angles for us to consider.
THE THIEF WHO REGRETTED (John 12:6). Oh the advantages Judas had! He had been selected by Jesus to be an apostle, was entrusted by his peers with the position of treasurer, and observed many of the Lord’s miracles (Matthew 11:5). It was this Judas who betrayed the Lord for money. His betrayal turned to regret [Matthew 27:3), but rather look forward to forgiveness, he only looked back and hanged himself. True repentance means more than feeling sorry for a wrong. It is the desire to change and do better (2nd Corinthians 7:10).
THE THIEF WHO WAS REPLACED. It was customary to release a prisoner at the Passover. Thus Pilate offered the crowd either Jesus or Barabbas. They requested the notorious murderer and robber be released rather than Jesus [Matthew 27:15-16). Barabbas had someone else (Jesus) take his punishment for him. Barabbas could say that Jesus died in his place. Of course, we can say it, too! (2nd Corinthians 5:20-21).
THE THIEF WHO REBELLED. At first both thieves crucified with Jesus spoke against Him (Matthew 2:41-44), but only one kept doing it (Luke 23:39). This thief remained impenitent because he forgot God, ignored death at hand, and justly deserved what he was receiving (Luke 23:40-41). This man died in a state of rebellion in spite of the rebuke and repentance of the other thief and a Savior close at hand.
THE THIEF WHO REPENTED. This thief had a change of heart [Luke 23:40-43). In his agony he looked to the Savior and admitted his sinfulness and Jesus’ innocence (Luke 23:41-42). His repentance did not bring escape from death but did bring relief and fellowship with Jesus in the next life (Luke 23:43). He did what the Lord asked him to do, and in that sense he is an example to us.
All of us are represented by one of these thieves. Have you let Jesus down? Have you allowed Jesus to take your place? Are you rebellious? Have you repented? Which are you?
via Hooker (OK) church of Christ