Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Apostles Creed -- Suffered Under Pontius Pilate

For our 2013 Hymn of the Month we will be exploring the Apostles Creed
With each post we'll look at one of the statements in the creed,
consider its significance, and share an appropriate hymn. 
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hades; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
As humans, we are big on justice. Maybe you've heard that justice is getting "just as you deserve." We say, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time," suggesting that jail is what lawbreakers deserve. And when we say that justice is served, we mean that an appropriate penalty has been meeted out to the guilty party.

Then why is that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried? He was completely without sin! Because only righteousness can satisfy a righteous God, and we are utterly incapable of producing any righteousness of our own at all. So, He [God] orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, The Voice).

When Jesus suffered, it was at the hands of Pontius Pilate. We know, of course, that throngs joined in, but it was Pilate who questioned Jesus and found him guiltless, yet turned Him over to the people to do with Him as they pleased. In Pontius Pilate we are reminded that each of us has a decision to make concerning Christ. And that decision has powerful consequences.

The crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus are truths that are fundamental to our Christian faith. This is the method God chose for His own Son to redeem us from sin and death. There is a terrible finality in these words: crucified, dead, buried. Jesus' suffering was excruciating, and it was tangible. And then He died.

I read recently that the cross is the intersection of God's holiness and His grace. His holiness must be met, but we cannot meet it. It is a horizontal line drawn too high for any of us to reach. So God's grace reached down to us, a vertical line, and gave us the cross. Only as we come to the cross can we ever "embody the very righteousness of God."

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