Are we perhaps forgetting that God knows the heart of every man; the penitent thief on the cross alongside Jesus, you can be sure, would have been eager to have been baptized in water if only he could have been, but he couldn't be, as he was nailed to a cross, couldn't get down, and wouldn't survive; the thief on the other side of Jesus, just mocked, Jesus, and would certainly not have been obedient to be baptized in water even if he could have been.
Why is it that many so called 'Christians' are so quick to use the example of the thief on the cross, to excuse their own disobedience to be baptized in water, rather than be like the eunuch who said "See, here is water, what is there to prevent me from being baptized," few people seem to wish to use this example, many people wish to use the example of the thief on the cross who was willing, but unable to be baptized.
The witness of loving obedience to be baptized in water as commanded by God, means a lot to God, not so much to us it seems; the thief had an excuse for not being baptized, he was nailed to a tree, and would hang there until he died, a reasonable excuse I would suggest, but what is our excuse? God is listening, and watching, if the excuse is just, He will know, but if we out of pride simply refuse to be baptized as we approach God for His gift of grace towards us, His forgiveness of our sins, then we have much more in common with the thief that mocked Jesus, and make null and void God's plan for our salvation - as Jesus Himself has said to the Jews that refused water baptism.
It does matters, it is serious.
I agree that the thief very likely had heard the testimony of Jesus prior to his arrest and crucifixion, he may well have been baptized in water, we cannot know at present - however, it breaks my heart that people use this event as a reason not to be baptized in water, using the event as an excuse (as I have said, why do they not use the eunuch as their example) - it speaks volumes about their claim of love for Jesus, and desire for forgiveness and a new start, only last week I spoke to a minister who was voicing the very same excuse, "The thief on the cross wasn't baptized," meaning therefore we are all okay, safe and sound in our disobedience says he. However, Jesus said "The one who really loves Me, is the one who keeps my commandments," all of them, not just baptism - 'Faith' - repentance, obedience to be baptized with sincerity, in water, and to sincerely seek baptism with The Holy, which will be attested to by God Himself Spirit, He can refuse you see, if we are not sincere, and then our faith is all about behaviour, behaviour, behaviour, behaviour, behaviour, behaviour, behaviour, behaviour, behaviour - continued faith is revealed in continued righteous behaviour. A lot of 'Christians' seem not to know, or perhaps care to know, that the Christian Faith is all about behaviour, behaviour Satan wants to corrupt. It is as simple as that, both baptisms are essential, baptism in water should be a humbling act of obedience, our refusal is our own proud rebellion, baptism with The indwelling Holy Spirit, is the point at which we come to know Christ (The Anointing) within us - "At that time (The upper room when The Holy Spirit comes upon them), you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you, - "If a man is in Christ, he is a new creation....," If Christ is not IN YOU (at that time you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you - this why Paul used those words - "If Christ is not in you..), you are none of His," Jesus said we "Must be born again."
The simple Truth of this message from Jesus and the disciples is all but lost, and it distresses me to know it, breaks my heart.