Summary: This salvation message takes a look at the person of Jesus Christ through the eyes of the Roman Centurion. A powerful testimony of a ruthless man of power who became a changed man of God.
This morning, we want to take these three verses and try to look through the eyes of a hardened man. The centurion was a man who was dedicated to the Roman army. He was the highest ranking soldier that a non commissioned officer could achieve, and as such, had charge of at least 100 men.
This centurion must have been particularly skillful and worthy, because he was put in charge of the crucifixion of a man who was seen as a rabble-rouser and a trouble maker. The Roman officials probably expected a riot, and the centurion mentioned here may have been put in charge more for crowd control than for execution.
Let us not forget that this was a battle-hardened warrior whose breast was commonly not so susceptible as some others to the impressions either of fear or pity. But what we see in this cold soldier is not contempt for an enemy of the Roman Empire, but a change of heart, attitude and mind. What was it that this man saw in a few short hours that caused him to declare that “this man was the son of God?”
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. Luke 23:28
There are at least 18 instances of Jesus being moved with compassion, weeping with compassion or showing compassion in the Gospels.
Strong’s Dictionary describes compassion as being moved as to one’s bowels; for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity.
Other words for compassion include feeling, heart, pity, sympathy or tenderness.
Compassion has no real value unless it causes a reaction, or enacts a call to action.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4
This verse sheds light on what can truly be described as Jesus’ utmost act of compassion.
The Jews who watched him being crucified thought that God was punishing Jesus for His sins. But the truth was that He was voluntarily and vicariously suffering and dying for theirs.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
Jesus fulfilled His ultimate act of compassion so that He could fulfill His ultimate place as our shepherd, our protector, and our savior.
MERCY AND GRACE
Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
Strong’s Dictionary describes grace as that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.
Mercy is defined as helping the afflicted, or bringing help to the wretched.
Other words include charity, leniency, amnesty, pardon and soft-heartedness.
Grace and mercy must be offered by one who has been offended. But in order for them to be realized, they must be accepted.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-10
By virtue of our sinful state, we are offenders of God’s law. But He had offered us grace and mercy, but it is up to us to take it.
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
Forgiveness by Jesus is mentioned at least 29 times in the Gospels and Acts, and at least 19 times in the epistles. It is proof of His diety as the second person of the trinity.
Vine’s Dictionary gives these deeper explanations of forgiveness: to bid going away, to let go, to expire, to release from debt
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matt 1:21
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10
But for this cause came I unto this hour. John 12:27
The very reason that Jesus was born was so that He could die.
He died so that we could have forgiveness from sin.
He died so that we could have a relationship with God.
He died so that we would not have to realize God’s wrath, but so we could have access God’s love.
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Matt 27:52-53