Jesus was Amazing

I. Introduction and Questions

The title of the communion message today is, “Jesus is Amazing”.

Mark 15:31-39 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lamasabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Q. What was the last thing to amaze you?
Q. Was it the amazing skill of magician like David Copperfield?
Q. Was it one of the Top Ten Plays or WebGems on SportsCenter?
Q. Was it the singing ability of a favorite American Idol  or the CGI-3D graphics in the latest movie?

Q. What amazes you?
Q. What gets your jaw dropping and your heart pumping?
Q. What makes you jump to your feet and want to clap –- or rather makes you sit in silence and awe?
Q. When was the last time you realized that Jesus WAS amazing…that Jesus IS amazing?

Many times the Bible points out that the very men who lived with him, who had grown accustomed to him, were once again amazed at him.

II. The Centurion

In Mark 15, we read about a stranger though, the Centurion, the soldier in charge of the hundred soldiers in charge of the days events.

A roman citizen
A Zeus worshipper.

In fact, he was the leader of the men who…
     taunted,
     beat,
     spit on
     and nailed Jesus to the wooden plank.

He was their commanding officer.
He saw something that day that utterly amazed him.
The Bible says, “when he saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this was the Son of God.”

     Q. Did the darkness over the land help him be amazed? Yes
     Q. Did the temple curtain tearing in two affect the Centurion? Surely
     Q. Did the earthquake that took place affect him? (in Matthew) Definitely
     Q. But what truly amazed him?

It was “HOW Jesus died”.

Matthew Henry points out the discrepancy between having the physical strength to make a “loud cry” and then almost immediately give up your spirit.

     Hmm.             
     Sounds like maybe this Jesus WAS in control

Q. Are you amazed at HOW Jesus died?

III. What did the Centurion observe

This Centurion had seen dozens, hundreds of men be crucified.
     None had spent so much time with Pilate.
     (In fact, Pilate had never tried, REALLY TRIED, to free any other.)
     None had divided the crowd so much.
     None had a sign — KING OF THE JEWS — in three languages.

This all made Jesus a celebrity.
     This made him interesting, noteworthy.
     But this was NOT what amazed the Centurion.

What amazed him was HOW Jesus died!

They all feared death!
Yet Jesus seemed unafraid, even confident

They all were bitter
Yet Jesus was praying for the soldiers’ forgiveness.

They all were hopeless
Yet Jesus had a gleam in his eye.

He knew something that others didn’t.
They all were guilty – and knew they deserved punishment.

 Jesus was pure
…guilty only of the sign above his head…
…calling himself a King of the Jews.

Rather than guilt, Jesus was somehow at peace.
All this was observed by this hardened soldier — and it somehow softened his heart.

IV. A Changed Heart

I think of him as a Drill Sergeant.
     A man, who is paid to be tough and show no pity.
     A man selected for the very reason…
     …that he himself scoffs at pain and death –
     …and trains that in his men.

Q. Do you ever feel like your heart is too hard?
Q. Have you given up on God being able to really get into your calloused heart and soften it?

Stand in amazement.

It was THE WAY this half-naked man hung on a cross and endured pain — that softened this tough guy, this roman Zeus worshipper, into a Jesus believer!

V. Upward Call

As we pray for the bread and the wine, I encourage you close your eyes and stand at the foot of the cross.

Look up at Jesus and watch how he died.

Watch his compassion for the thief.
Watch his forgiveness of the soldiers – for they know not what they do.
Watch his concern for his mother’s welfare.
And be amazed.

And just as Peter made the great confession, surely you are the Son of God, and just as this Drill Sergeant made the great confession, surely this was the Son of God, we are called to make that confession once again.

And be amazed that Jesus looks down at YOU from the cross
     and is concerned for YOUR welfare
     and YOUR future in heaven.

VI. Prayer

 

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