Christ and the Four Thieves


“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

There were four thieves closely involved in the events surrounding the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first of these was one of His own disciples. “[Judas] was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (John 12:6). It was Judas, of course, who betrayed Christ, facilitating His arrest and conviction.

The second was not only a thief but also a revolutionary and a murderer. “Barabbas . . . who had committed murder in the insurrection . . . was a robber” (Mark 15:7; John 18:40). This convicted criminal, appointed to death, was released and Jesus condemned in his stead. Thus, Barabbas benefited temporarily from Christ, receiving an unexpected and undeserved liberty because Christ was willing to go to the cross.

“Then were there two thieves crucified with him” (Matthew 27:38). Their names are not given in the Bible, but their attitudes toward Christ, and therefore their ultimate destinies, were diametrically different. One of them berated Christ, saying, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39).

The fourth thief, on the other hand, believed Christ, and therefore heard His saving words: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

All were thieves, deserving punishment. One was a betrayer, ending his life in suicide; one was a beneficiary, though only for a time; one was a berater, destined for hell; but one was a believer, receiving salvation and eternal life. Jesus, who received the penalty for thievery, can save even the thief, for He came “that they might have life, and . . . have it more abundantly.” HMM