At the Conclusion of Jesus’ mission
There were two thieves, two choices, two destinations
God ordained that Jesus would be crucified at Passover between two men, brethren, who were rebels of Rome. Pilate tried to not crucify him and expected the people to pick Barrabas the scoundrel. But the religious men who tried Jesus the night before made sure there were people early that morning to cry out “crucify him.”
So Jesus took the place of the murderer Barabbas more accurately pronounced Bar Abba (meaning son of the father). The people’s choice that morning was another son of the father. Which is ironic, or as stated -- God ordained.
Mark 15:26-29 “And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. V.27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with the transgressors."
3 crosses that all looked alike were stood up on that hill of crucifixion (Golgotha) that were ordained for this momentous day in history.
Luke 23:33-34 “there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
There were those who knew exactly what they were doing and there were those who did not (1 Cor.2:8). It was the Sanhedrin that did and made sure he would pay with his life for challenging their religious order. This will be repeated for his followers in the last days.
Peter uses this point at Pentecost 50 days after, “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23)
God ordained this day, but a certain portion of his brethren still had a part in it. Jesus hung there for hours as his hands were spread out to both men on each side of him. Men who rejected him and made sure he would be crucified watched (Ps.22:13). And the two men who hung there watched, but after time something happened to one of them.
The crown of thorns made Jesus a bloodied face while the sign above identified him as the King of the Jews. He was an innocent man who came to rescue mankind from the eternal punishment and though he had to the power to do what the one man asked, (save them all) he could not, this was the very reason he came to earth.
Luke 23:39-43 “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
The one rejector asked for Jesus to save them all, but the other saw Jesus as innocent of any crime. The way Jesus conducted himself was unlike any other man being crucified. The two men were representative of all mankind. Those who believe and those who reject. Those on the left and those on His right.
Both men were alive when the sun went dark as the sins of the world were placed on the lamb. One held onto his guilt until the end and died hopeless, the other died with the hope of a personal promise to be with Jesus in paradise. Why? He saw himself as guilty of his crime and deserved this sentence but saw Jesus as innocent of any crime. He knew what Jesus spoke of as being true and asked to be with him when he comes into his kingdom. He was promised the gift given to those who believe.
What was the difference? One man was consumed with his sentence of death, the other became concerned with his soul and admitted his guilt. He understood his guilt, that he deserved the punishment of his crime, the other refused to admit his guilt and wanted only to be rescued.
Both heard the same words as they were several feet away from the savior who hung between them.
What this shows us is that the Lord is there until your very last breathe willing to forgive and bring you into his kingdom. Of course he would rather you turn to Him now, not later and be able to experience him as your new life that will last through eternity.
We don’t know his name of the thief who repented, who humbled himself and entrusted his soul to Jesus. After this thief repents Jesus pronounced it is finished and gave up his Spirit. Showing that his mercy extends to those even in the last minutes of their life if they are honest and repentant. Both men went into the afterlife, but only one went with Jesus. He had no works to speak of, he didn’t pray, he didn’t tithe, he wasn’t even baptized. But he is with Jesus, even today numbered among the saints.