WHAT CONVINCED THE CENTURION?
Intro: What a bleak, wretched scene it must have been that day outside
Jerusalem when the Lord Jesus Christ died to save our souls. It was a day
when all of Hell was unleashed against the Lord Jesus. It was a day when
those who should have been His friends saw to it that He was put to death.
It was a day when most of His Own disciples left Him to die in agony on that
cross. It was a day of horror! It was a day that will live in infamy for all of
Yet, it is one of the greatest days that dawned since time began. For on
that day, our Savior died for our sins! Jesus Christ died as the Lamb of God
so that you and I might go free! He died to save sinners! And, friend, He
was surely surrounded by them that day!
In that crowd that surrounded His cross that day were sinners, criminals,
soldiers, religious people, family and a few friends. In that crowd were two
special men. One was a criminal who had come to Calvary to be put to
death. The other was a Roman Centurion who had come to Calvary that
day to put men to death. Before that day was over, both of these men
would be new creatures, saved by the grace and the sacrifice of the One
dying on that middle cross.
I know why the thief was compelled to believe. But, have you ever
thought about what it was that convinced the Centurion? Something he saw
or heard that day was used of the Spirit of God to touch his heart and to
bring him into a saving relationship with God. I want to share with you what
I think are some possibilities as to what it was that touched the Centurion's
heart. Tonight, for these few minutes, I want to preach on the thought:
What Convinced The Centurion?
I. V. 32-33 WAS IT HIS COMPOSURE?
A. The Bible tells us that Jesus went to the cross to suffer and die as
the Lamb of God, John 1:29; Rev. 13:8; 1 Pet. 1:18-19. But, it also
relates that He went to the cross as meek as a lamb goes to be
slaughtered, Isa. 53:7. (Ill. What He could have done that day! He
didn't! He died so that we might live!)
B. This Centurion had seen countless men die by crucifixion. Most of
them were probably like the two thieves who were crucified with
Jesus that day. Most died cursing and screaming in agony. He had
never seen anyone die like Jesus died!
C. Something about the way Jesus conducted Himself that day may
have touched this man's hard heart. Does it touch your's?
II. V. 33 WAS IT HIS CROSS?
A. As I mentioned, this man had seen countless others die this death.
Ill. The brutality of the cross! However, the Bible would lead us to
believe that Jesus may have suffered more than others, Isa. 52:14.
(Note: all they had put Jesus through before the cross: Scourging,
Beating, Spitting, Several Trials, even the whole band of soldiers
(some 400 - 600) played their games with Him, Mark 15:16-19.)
Perhaps this man had never seen another in such sad shape when
he was crucified.
B. Maybe it was the sign that hung over His cross, Luke 23:38. This
sign proclaimed Jesus to be the Jewish King. It inferred that He was
the Messiah. Perhaps it was this statement as to the identity of
Jesus that pricked the heart of this man.
C. It may have been the cross that moved him, we just do not know.
However, let me ask you this: Does His cross still move you? (Note:
Often we get moved by the wrong things! His death for us on the
cross should move us to love Him and to worship Him with all of our
III. V. 34, 39-43 WAS IT HIS COMPASSION?
A. While Jesus was dying on the cross, He exhibited His grace and love
by showing compassion for the needs of others in the hour of His
Own greatest need.
1. He Showed Compassion To The Crowds - During His hours on
the cross, Jesus reached out to those around Him in the crowd.
a. The crowds around the cross mocked Him, ridiculed Him and
tormented Him even as He died. Yet, He did not condemn
them. He did not rebuke them. When He opened His
mouth, it was to pray for them, v. 34! What grace!
b. He even took time in His dying hour to provide for the needs
of His mother, Mary, John 19:26-27. He loved her and
made sure she would be cared for after His departure.
2. He Showed Compassion To The Criminal - v. 39-43 - When
this man, who just moments before had joined the other thief in
mocking Jesus, asked for help concerning his spiritual condition,
Jesus reached out to him in grace, love and compassion. He
promised this thief salvation. Which, after all, was the reason for
the cross in the first place, John 18:37, Mark 10:45.
B. Was this what caused the Centurion to pause and proclaim his faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ? Was it the compassion He displayed?
(Note: His compassion for sinners was one of the things that drew
me to Him and that continues to draw me closer day by day! Thank
God, He has a tender heart for the fallen! Ill. Matt. 11:28; Rom.
10:13; Rev. 22:17 - He opens the door to "all who will"! That lets
me in and that keeps me in too!)
IV. V. 34, 43, 46 WAS IT HIS CRIES?
A. The Gospel writers record for us that on seven occasions Jesus
opened His mouth and spoke while He was on the cross. (Ill. How
difficulty this would have been for any man! Thus revealing the
importance of these utterances.) Three of them are recorded here
by Luke. Allow me to take a moment to run through all 7. You see,
even though Luke doesn't record them all, the Centurion heard them
all! Let's hear them this evening.
1. The Cry Of Love - Luke 23:34
2. The Cry Of Forgiveness - Luke 23:43
3. The Cry Of Fulfillment - Matt. 27:46
4. The Cry Of Provision - John 19:26-27
5. The Cry Of Agony - John 19:28
6. The Cry Of Victory - John 19:30
7. The Cry Of Departure - Luke 23:46
B. Surely, these statements from the Lord Jesus moved the heart of
this soldier! Surely as he heard the words of the dying Christ, his
heart was stirred and he realized that this was more than a man
dying here. Perhaps that is why he proclaimed the fact that Jesus
Christ was the Son of God - Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39.
C. I don't know if the words of the Lord were what touched this man's
heart, but they sure do strike a cord within my soul! I bless His
name that even when He was dying for the sins of the world, He still
had time to focus His thoughts on the individual! You see, of all the
things Jesus said while He was here on earth, the single greatest
words from His mouth may have been these, "Come unto me, all
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest:", Matt. 11:28. Or, perhaps it was these words, "If any man
thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.", John 7:37. Of
course, all of His words are equally powerful and inspired. But,
those personal invitations mean a lot to me!
Conc: As I bring these thoughts to a close, we are left to ask
ourselves: are we convinced? Has there been a moment in my life
when I was confronted with and convinced of the truth of Who Jesus
Christ is? When that moment came, did I place saving faith in Him?
This Centurion was saved because he trusted! Have you trusted in
Jesus? If not, you can tonight! If you have, think back to what it was
that got your attention and thank Him for that blessed moment when
it became clear that Jesus Christ was Savior and Lord!