'Two Thieves and a King' is a fictional short story which is based on the Biblical story of the two thieves who were crucified with Christ. The author explores the question of how these two men may have ended up on Golgatha's hill next to Jesus and points out the power and willingness of Jesus to save all sinners.
The story opens with the two thieves in prison awaiting their just fate. One thief contemplates the irony of his situation; he had stolen only to provide material things his elderly mother needed but would no longer be alive to care for her because he chose to steal. The other thief is bitter and callous because the Roman soldiers killed his wife and sold his children into slavery. This thief has nothing but hatred in his heart and had stolen only out of spite toward the Romans he loathed so much. It is ironic that these two ended up as accomplices in the first place.
Their conversation is interrupted by a commotion made by the other prisoners as Jesus is taken to the prison. The three men must all go together to the place of execution just outside Jerusalem. On the way, the first thief begins to remember the words of the book of Isaiah and he realizes Jesus must truly be the prophesied Messiah. Something begins to change in his heart as he meditates on the words of Isaiah as they relate to the present situation. The second thief has no change of heart and remains cold even in the face of death.
The story closes with the crucifixion scene and the crowd of jeering onlookers. There is stark contrast between the taunting of the hostile crowd who dare Jesus to come down from His cross and what is taking place in the first thief's heart as he nears death. There is also contrast between the life Jesus offers the first thief and the hardness of the second thief, refusing to accept salvation as his life ebbs away. This story points out the freedom each one of us is given to accept or reject Christ.