Matthew 27:38
Two robbers were crucified with Him, one on His right hand and the other on His left.
Christ Dying Amid ThievesPhillips Brooks.Matthew 27:38
Jesus Between Two RobbersG. Venables.Matthew 27:38
The Penitent ThiefT. Sherlock, D. D.Matthew 27:38
The Three CrossesT. R. Stevenson.Matthew 27:38
The Reproach of the CrossJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 27:32-44

It is not difficult to understand Pilate. He is a commonplace, and in no sense a complex character. His act in putting this inscription above Christ's head reveals the mean-souled man who, because he cannot have his way, will have his revenge in a paltry, petty way. Not an outrageously wicked man, the key to his character lies in his love of distinction, power, and self-indulgence. A man of weak, and, with his temptations, of corrupt character, he was anxious to conciliate the Jews, so he surrendered Jesus; but he would force his stubborn way in the trumpery matter of the superscription. To all expostulations he replied, "What I have written I have written."


1. Old prophecies had indeed suggested the kingship of Messiah, but the kingship anticipated was a theocracy rather than an earthly rule.

2. Disciples had taken up the idea that Christ was to be an earthly King. There was a materializing tendency in that age, because material deliverance from Roman bondage seemed to be the one thing needful.

3. Christ never claimed such a title, and never acted as if he claimed it. There is a royal tone in Christ's words and works. He spoke of himself in relation to the "kingdom of heaven;" but never of himself as "King of the Jews."

4. Christ emphatically declared, even to Pilate, that in such senses as men attached to the words, he was not "King of the Jews." "My kingdom is not of this world." Christ is not an earthly king, and never will be. He is King of truth, King of souls, King of righteousness.

II. TO CALL CHRIST "KING OF THE JEWS" MAY EXPRESS THE TRUTH CONCERNING HIM. He is King of the Jews, but not of those who are only nationally such. He is King of all who are the true children of Abraham, because they have the faith of Abraham. Christ may be called a "King" if we understand by that term:

1. King of truth seekers; of all truth seekers everywhere.

2. King of the spiritually minded; of those who cannot be satisfied with the seen and temporal, but must breathe the atmosphere of the unseen and eternal.

3. Christ, as we see him on the cross, is Champion-King.

4. Christ, as now in the spiritual realm, is King of his Church. "On his vesture and thigh his name is written, King of kings, and Lord of lords." - R.T.

Two thieves crucified with Him.
I. The moral condition of these men BEFORE CRUCIFIXION — Robbers. They are also called "malefactors." At the earlier stage of the proceedings these two men were equally depraved.

II. The moral condition of these men AFTER THEY WERE AFFIXED TO THE CROSS. In the case of one —

1. There was a beholding of the crucified Jesus.

2. There was a perception of his own sinfulness and of the purity of Christ.

3. There is a prayer for a participation in all that Christ has to offer.

4. His acceptance promised by Jesus. The other sinner mocks our Lord. The men the same at first, but now how changed the condition of one.


1. Christ is placed on the central cross. He was first suspended on the cross by the cruel malignity of men.

2. That Christ's sufferings were for all men. He was crucified between two, not on one side.

3. These robbers were the representative men of the world.

4. You may perish with Christ close beside you.

(G. Venables.)

I. There may be the same outward circumstances where there is the greatest inward diversity.

II. We have no choice as to the fact of suffering: our choice refers only to its nature. Each has his own cross: Christ was not without one. The wicked have their woes.

1. The sufferings of the good are consoled.

2. The sufferings of the good are limited — "For a season."

III. The means used for Christ's disgrace promote His glory. Satan was wounded by his own weapon: and the robber designed to insult our Lord was saved. Thus temptation is turned to good ends.

(T. R. Stevenson.)

There then are the two stories (of the thieves and of Jesus). See how far apart they begin. One in the innocence of perfect holiness; the other in the blackest wickedness. And then see how they meet at last. As when a black and turbid stream goes hurrying towards a cavern's gloom, into which it is destined to plunge itself oat of sight, and just before it reaches its dark doom, a pure fresh river that was born among the snows in the sunlight on the mountain's top, and has sung its way down through flowers, drops its quiet, transparent waters down into the tumultuous current, and shares its plunge, so the pure holiness of Christ fell into the stream of human wickedness, and shared its fate.

(Phillips Brooks.)

The different effects the judgments of God have upon the minds of men. The wisdom of God in setting the examples of His justice and mercy so near together, and has taught us to fear without despair, and to hope without presumption. What would the dying sinner give to have his Saviour so near him in his last moments.


1. In all this there may be nothing resembling a death-bed repentance. The dying thief seems to have heard and known much about the character of Christ: he had elsewhere learnt His dignity and was persuaded of the truth of His mission. And what is this to them who have no desire to lie down Christians upon their death-beds, though they would willingly go off penitents.

2. Suppose this great work were begun and finished on the cross, yet it cannot be drawn into example by Christian sinners; because the conversion of a Jew or a heathen is one thing, and the repentance of a Christian another.

3. The profligate life of this unconverted sinner was not attended with such aggravated circumstances as the sins of Christians are. He sinned against the light of nature and reason only. The greater his weakness was, the fitter object for mercy was he. Not the same excuses for Christians.

II. But there are OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES FIT TO BE OBSERVED WHICH RENDER A DEATH-BED REPENTANCE VERY INSECURE AND DANGEROUS, though we should allow it all the hopes which have been raised from the case before us.

1. He that sins in hopes of repentance at last, may sin so far as to grow hardened and obdurate, and imcapable of repentance when the time cosines. Nor is it in your own power to sin to what degree you please; habits grow insensibly. There is more reason to fear that sin indulged will get the better of you, than you of it.

2. Could you preserve your resolutions of repentance, yet still it is not in your own power to secure an opportunity to execute them. The thief on the cross died by the hand of justice, knew how long he had to live; he had no pretence to defer his repentance.

3. His death not being the effect of disease, but of the judge's sentence, he brought with him to the cross, which you may call his death-bed, a sound body and mind. He had his senses perfectly, his reason fresh, and was capable of faith and acts of devotion. How different is the case of the languishing sinner. How can one know His Saviour who cannot know even his own luther at such a time.

(T. Sherlock, D. D.)

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