Re: The two thieves
Remember, Peter "followed afar off" and with the fear which had come over all of the disciples it is quite possible that only John was close to the Cross along with the women, plus Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
That put me in the moment....well said!
From Believer's Bible Commentary (BBC)
The Two Robbers (23:39-43)
23:39-41 We learn from the other Gospel narratives that both robbers reviled Jesus at the outset. If He was the Christ, why did He not save them all? But then one of them had a change of heart. Turning to his companion, he rebuked him for his irreverence. After all they were both suffering for crimes that they had committed. Their punishment was deserved. But this Man on the middle cross had done nothing wrong.
23:42 Turning to Jesus, the thief asked the Lord to remember him when He came back and set up His kingdom on earth. Such faith was remarkable. The dying thief believed that Jesus would rise from the dead and would eventually reign over the world.
23:43 Jesus rewarded his faith with the promise that that very day, they would be together in Paradise. Paradise is the same as the third heaven (2Co_12:2, 2Co_12:4), and means the dwelling place of God. Today—what speed! With Me—what company! In Paradise—what happiness!
Charles R. Erdman writes:
This story reveals the truth to us that salvation is conditioned upon repentance and faith. However, it contains other important messages also. It declares that salvation is independent of sacraments. The thief had never been baptized, nor had he partaken of the Lord's Supper. ... He did in fact boldly profess his faith in the presence of a hostile crowd and amid the taunts and jeers of rulers and soldiers, yet he was saved without any formal rites. It is further evident that salvation is independent of good works. ... It is also seen that there is no “sleep of the soul.” The body may sleep, but consciousness exists after death. Again it is evident that there is no “purgatory.” Out of a life of sin and shame, the penitent robber passed immediately into a state of blessedness. Again it may be remarked that salvation is not universal. There were two robbers; only one was saved. Last of all it may be noted that the very essence of the joy which lies beyond death consists in personal communion with Christ. The heart of the promise to the dying thief was this: “Thou shalt be with me.” This is our blessed assurance, that to depart is “to be with Christ” which is “very far better.”
From Jesus Christ's side one person may go to heaven and another to hell. Which side of the cross are you on?
Consider the words of Omar M. Ahmad, founder of CAIR: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant." ... "The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America , and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."