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Summary: Hardness of Heart, Hope, Spiritual Awakening

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4 Views from the Cross – A Soldier Views the Son of God

Matthew 27:45-54 (p. 697) March 20, 2016

Introduction:

Doug Fraley, my youth minister at Southland when I was around 7 years old taught me something about my conscience that I’ve never forgotten...He said our conscience is like a circle inside our heart and that circle is filled with a tightly fitting triangle...when we do something we know is wrong...the triangle spins and it’s edges rub against the circle...and we feel it...it causes us to feel uncomfortable with what we’ve done –

And then he said, “But if you keep doing the same thing over and over again you wear the edges off the triangle and you don’t feel uncomfortable with what you doing anymore.

If you’ve ever had a callous develop on your hand you know exactly what he’s talking about...when you first start digging with the shovel...or swinging the hammer your hands are soft, you rub them raw...you get a blister, but if you keep on digging and swinging eventually those soft hands build up calluses that keep you from feeling the pain.

I’m not sure how many battles he’d been in or how many men he’d killed or helped kill...I’m not sure how much blood he’d had on his hands...or how many horrible things he’d seen...but you do not become a centurion in the Roman army without experiencing your share of pain and death...you do not rise to this position of overseeing 100 soldiers with weakness or gentleness....staff sergeants in the Roman army were hard men, combat tested and proven...there was blood and death in their past and almost certainly in their future.

Rome would only have chosen those whose triangle had been rubbed smooth...with calloused hearts to oversee an execution squad.

The scourging had become common place to this soldier. The screams of agony and protest fell on deaf ears...He was accustomed to the cursing and obscenities...He’d heard them all as men died on a Roman cross...maybe the best way to describe his heart was “desensitized.” He’d seen what he could not un-see...over and over again.

The pain and abuse of this world has a way of doing that to the human heart...sin hardens us...pain is something we try to numb...addicts deal with it with a drug or bottle.

Soccer mom’s with a Macy’s card...businessmen with an affair...but numbness never provides hope...just a temporary “time out.”

Jesus always has a way of rebuilding the triangle, or turning a heart of stone into one of flesh...His love and grace are sharper than any Roman sword and able to penetrate the most calloused heart.

The eyes of the soldier had seen a lot of people die...His ears had heard a lot of pain...but His eyes had never seen a man die like Jesus...His ears had never heard silence when he expected cursing...He’d never witnessed the Son of God die before – and that changed his view from the foot of the cross.

He experienced...

I. LOVE RESCUING INSTEAD OF HATE HURTING

Mark 15:15 tells us that “Pilate handed Jesus over to be flogged and crucified.”

And the charge that would be posted over His head: KING OF THE JEWS. Why is this important? Because whenever Rome conquered another territory or kingdom...the first thing they did was replace it’s King with a Roman ruler...that’s exactly why Pilate and Herod are in power.

The foreign King would be humiliated and paraded as an example of defeat...this humiliation and mutilation of a conquered King said, “who’s really in power now?” Rome is!!

So with Jesus being crucified as “King of the Jews” these soldiers would treat Him the way they would treat any deposed King.

MARK 15:16-20 (p. 712)

Amazingly Isaiah the prophet wrote 800 years before this event “The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him...and by His wounds we are healed.” (Is. 53:5)

The word for “wounds” is literally “stripes.” “By His stripes we are healed.” The beating and punishment Jesus endured...was ours...He took my “stripes.”

But what made this beating different was the silence: “Jesus is lead like a lamb to the slaughter...as a sheep before her shearers is silent, He did not open His mouth.”

(Is. 53:7)

This soldier doesn’t hear hatred. No angry screams about how evil he is or the injustice of what’s being done...He’s used to seeing violence meeting violence and hate meeting hate...He’s never experienced anything like this before...maybe the triangle starts to turn a little and this amazing love starts to cut through the callous.

Love rescuing has that affect.

[This photo changed the world.

SHOW 1ST PHOTO

It was taken by Michael Yon as Major Mark Beiger tried to rescue this little girl. In Mosul...a suicide bomber attacked his patrol while 20 children were gathered around. Major Beiger found this little girl and tried to rush her to the American hospital instead of the Iraqi’s hospital so she would get the best care...Yon took this picture because he would stop and hug her and talk to her on the way...she didn’t survive.

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