Q: There seems to be some discrepancies in the Gospels concerning the reactions of the two thieves crucified with Jesus. In Matt. 27:44 and Mark 15:32, both criminals insulted Jesus along with the Priests and teachers. However, in Luke 23:39-43, only one insulted Jesus while the other stood up for him?
A: The Crucifixion lasted for at least 6 hours–from the third hour till the ninth. Do the Gospels represent all the events and everything that happened and was said by everyone there? –of coarse not!
Here is the best explanation:
1. Both criminals joined in with the others mocking Jesus in the beginning (as Matt. and Mark records).
2. Then much later as death was immanent, one of the thieves changed his mind about Jesus and repented (as Luke records).
It is not difficult to imagine that one could change their mind after watching and hearing what Jesus said for nearly 6 hours from the cross. After all, Jesus was a remarkable person and more than that, the very Son of God.
How did Jesus respond to all the insults? He asked his Father to forgive everyone there, including the two thieves. Even a hardened criminal could well have been affected by such a statement of forgiveness, especially from one who was also facing death.