Which of the 2 thieves crucified with Jesus represents you?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2016


According to the scriptures, we are approaching one of the most important weeks in Christian faith. Many events take place in what is referred to as the week of passion. I want to narrow our focus to the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Crucifixion was a form of capital punishment. The Carthaginians invented this punishment hundreds of years before the Romans started using it. It was intended to be incredibly brutal and the Romans had learned how to increase the suffering to prolong the death as long as possible. Their purpose was to use crucifixion as powerful warning and a deterrent to committing crimes that deserved such punishment.

Anyone who was condemned to death on a cross would suffer the greatest degree of agony before finally dying in misery and disgrace. Death on the cross was so brutal it was not allowed as a form of execution for a Roman citizen. This form of capital punishment execution was used throughout the Roman Empire.

As we read the scriptures, that was the practice when Jesus was taken before Pilate and Herod. “There they crucified Him with two other men, one on each side Jesus between them” (John 19:18). These were two thieves and the three had a conversation while waiting to die. It was the practice of this public execution to put a sign above the head of the condemned stating the reason for the execution. Above the head of Jesus they put the charge, “This is Jesus the king of the Jews.” Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priest also, along with the scribes and elders, was mocking Him saying, “He saved others: He cannot save Himself. If he is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trust in God; let God rescue Him now, for He said, “I am the Son of God.”

The thieves were also insulting Him with the same words (Matt. 27:37-44). You will notice that there were three groups of mockers, the passerby, the religious leaders, and the thieves. The crucifixion site was at a major entry point to Jerusalem, and the passersby included people coming to the city for normal activities and those who came to watch another execution. There was shame involved for those placed on a cross. The citizens would pass by and express their disgusts to those being crucified. The religious leaders included the chief priest, scribes, and elders. They were the ones who captured Him in the garden of Gethsemane and led the crowd to shout “Crucify him.” The thieves joined the mockers but as the day progressed, one of the thieves began to realize that Jesus was not like all the other who had been placed on a cross and asked for forgiveness and acceptance. All three died that day. One died in his sins, the other died forgiven of his sins, and Jesus died for sins of others.

Consider this question, which one of the two thieves represents you? Jesus died for your sins that day. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life’” (Rom. 3:23). Jesus told his disciples several times, on the third day he would rise. The scriptures continue that after he was buried a watch was placed at the tomb. As it was beginning to dawn an earthquake occurred and the stone covering the entrance rolled away. Several women came to the tomb with the plan to somehow get in the tomb to more properly prepare the body of Jesus for burial. When they discovered the tomb open and empty all of them except Mary Magdalene ran back to where the disciples and others had been hiding. While they were gone Mary had an encounter with Jesus. She was the first to see Jesus and told that He has risen from the dead. Some still find it hard to accept this truth.Some are still like the mocking crowd. Some are still like the thief who died in his sins. But for me I believe.

As passion week approaches and the day of celebration of the resurrection don’t wait to reflect on the fact that God has provided salvation to all who will seek him and the Savior sent from glory.


Leroy Cole works with the Covington County Baptist Association.