When seeking what we can learn from the thief on the cross, it should be  remembered that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, two thieves were crucified  beside Him (Luke  23:33-43), and both began their time on the cross by mocking and blaspheming  Him, as did many of the spectators. One of the thieves responded to the message  of salvation and was taken to paradise that very day. He is the one usually  referred to as the thief on the cross, while the other man did not respond and  is now suffering from a deadly and eternal mistake.

It is remarkable  that, while in the excruciating and mind-numbing torment of the cross, the Son  of Man had the heart, mind and will to pray for others. Yet it is a miracle that  one thief, while in agony himself, heard the Spirit of God call him to  repentance and acceptance of the forgiveness God was just about to provide  through the death of Christ. While the disciples were abandoning the Lord, this  man answered the call and his sins were forgiven, including his blasphemy  against the Son of God (Luke  5:31-32, 12:8-10).

That the other thief rejected Jesus is remarkable in its own right.  While being tortured on the cross he literally joined his torturers in insulting  the Savior of the world, and he most likely did so because he wanted his  torturers to think he was just like them, joined to the world and with no love  for God (Matthew  27:44). Not only was this man next to the Savior, he heard Him pray, he  witnessed the salvation of the other thief, he saw the world go dark, and he  heard the testimony of the Son. But his pride kept him from submitting to the  only One who could save him, and when he one day bows to the Name he mocked, he  will be doing so reluctantly and while in torment (Philippians  2:10).

What we learn from the saved thief on the cross is that we  are all sinners in need of a Savior, and no matter the number of our sins and no  matter if we, or the world, think our sins are minor or extreme, it is never too  late to repent and accept the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation  22:17). Moreover, as long as someone still has a mind and the will to chose  life over death (Hebrews  9:27), it is never too late to proclaim the gospel, which hopefully will  open a heart to a miracle by the Holy Spirit.