One of the criminals, a thief, who was crucified with Jesus, said to him, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42)”. Somehow he knew Jesus’ name and that Jesus had a kingdom!
Was Jesus that famous? Did everyone in Jerusalem know about him? Perhaps it was because of the sign above Jesus that Pilot had ordered placed there. The sign declared, “Jesus, King of the Jews”.
In another gospel, it states that, “And the robbers who were crucified with [Jesus] also reviled him … (Matthew 27:44).” Either the two gospels are inconsistent, or there was a transformation in one of the thieves. He went from reviling Jesus, to, in effect, asking his forgiveness. He realized his sin and that he deserved punishment, whereas Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:39-41).
It is interesting to imagine how “the good thief” came to this conclusion. He may have known something about Jesus before the time of execution. Or, perhaps observing how Jesus bore his own suffering, he realized that Jesus was not just a man, but God also.