The updated NIV–coming in print March 2011–renders lestai rebels instead of robbers.  Modern translation have kept robbers with few exceptions, some have criminal, which I find not to be adequate enough.  Josephus references zealous revolutionary factions, perhaps, clinic bombers or Muslim extremists would be a good parallel.  They sought to overthrow the yoke of Roman with violence, one of these insurrectionists is the infamous Barabbas.  Jesus was imprisoned  amongst many insurrectionists who murdered during and uprising.

This places Jesus on the cross not with robbers but with brigands of the uprising, insurrectionists against Rome and possible the established order of the aristocratic Jews.  Jesus’ subversive kingdom announcements and jarring actions must have labeled him as a quasi-revolutionary.  Yet, one thing could not be mistaken, his kingdom did not characterize either violence nor uproar, neither theft nor destruction, but turning the other cheek, praying for enemies, loving pagans, and going the extra mile–certainly he was found guilty of no wrong.  Rebel, certainly, fits the historical setting and puts Jesus next to apparent yoke-fellows.