Converted at the cross

Evening message at Tyndale FPC  – Lord’s Day  2nd June 2019.

CONVERTED AT THE CROSS

Scripture: Matt 27:54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

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The history of our Saviour’s crucifixion at Calvary is very full of incident. We consider ourselves to have a full grasp of the whole matter when we are acquainted with His sayings upon the cross, the incident with the dying thief and the evil mockery of those hard-hearted Jews who gathered to delight in His sufferings.

There was much happening there that does not, at first, appear. There were secret happenings taking place within the hearts of some at Calvary.

Take the person at the centre of our text, for example. What happened to him must be counted amongst the other miraculous events of that day of days. He had been at the centre of the day’s activities from the beginning. In verse 26, the record of the Saviour’s treatment at the hands of the soldiers begins. When they had nailed the Saviour to the tree, they sat down and watched Him as their duty required lest some came and took Him down from the cross. He was present throughout the hours of the crucifixion. Our text speaks of the centurion at the moment of the Saviour’s death. He makes a tremendous statement as a result of what he saw. Truly this was the Son of God.

I. IN AN INSTANT THIS MAN WAS ENLIGHTENED IN THE CENTRAL TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL

1. This was the truth rejected by the leaders/Jews. Matt 26:63-66, John 19:7.

2. It was the truth apparently denied by the crucifixion. 39-44.

3. It is the truth that the Father alone can communicate. Matt 16:17. It speaks of an internal revelation to the soul.

4. It is the truth that blesses. Matt 16:17.

 

II. HIS CONVERSION CAME AFTER A TIME OF INSTRUCTIVE OBSERVATION

Though the circumstances of this man’s conversion are unique, the means God used are the same as He employs in every conversion. This soldier was brought into contact with the Lord Jesus Christ. In the hours in which he watched Christ he gained a knowledge of Him that was the seed which blossomed into his regeneration. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever, I Peter 1:23. He gained a knowledge of Christ the Word of God as he watched Him. He saw:—

1. His dignity during  His trial. While others were like wild animals Christ was quiet, 24 – 25.

2. He saw His meekness as He was mocked. 29 – 31.

3. His calmness as he crucified Him. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth, Isaiah 53:7.

4. His tender mercy as He suffered. The thief, His mother, His persecutors.

5. His victory as He died. 50 – 53.

It was these truths that brought forth the cry of out text.

III. HIS CONVERSION WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A GREAT FEAR AND A GLORIFYING OF GOD

In this cry there is first of all —

1. An evidence of a great consciousness of God. Here is why he feared. He became aware that he was in the presence of God, the God that he had mocked and crucified.

2. The man owned his guilt and sinfulness. Certainly this was a righteous man, Luke 23:47. His words remind us of the dying thief’s words, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss, 40-41. Perhaps he was influenced by his testimony. What a thought! His companion was unimpressed but who overheard was smitten to the heart. Furthermore, he would have heard Pilates wife call him a ‘just’ man, the same word as translated ‘righteous in Luke 23:47) (Matt 27:19). He would have Pilate speak of Him as a ’just person’, (Matt 27:24). Again this is the same word as ‘righteous’!

3. He opened His mouth in praise to God. These words were words of thanksgiving and honour to God. Matt 15:30-31.

Please remember:

* You have had more opportunity to watch Christ than this man. before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Gal 3:1.

* You have as much cause to fear as he had.

* You have seen others come to Christ.

* You have less to fear by such a confession than he did.

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