A statement of Christian belief, the Apostles' Creed is a brief catalog of the teachings the Apostles put forth. Breaking apart the creed segment by segment, the writers at Ignite Your Faith expound on the beliefs presented.
Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried (from the Apostles' Creed).
Has someone ever pretty much saved your life? Maybe a teacher walked by just as a bully was about to pound you. Or maybe someone grabbed your shirt just before you stepped out in front of a car. Or maybe a firefighter dragged you out of a burning building. Or maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic. Has a good friend ever tutored you so you wouldn't flunk a major test?
Or maybe, it was really dramatic. Maybe somebody suffered and died for you.
Somebody did. Just for you. Just for all of us.
Jesus, the Son of God, not only became a man, but he suffered at the hands of other men and willingly submitted himself to death; not just any death, but death on a cross—public crucifixion and humiliation. There is something powerful and too deep for words about this suffering and killing of God.
Chances are, you've seen Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ. If you have, you probably remember the silence after the movie. In showing after showing, people sat in their seats too numb to talk—or move. The beatings and crucifixion were all so horrible and unbelievable. What could you possibly say?
Imagine how the disciples felt as they watched their leader suffer and then die.
His followers had such high expectations. They felt Jesus would somehow make the Roman rulers sorry they'd ever set foot—and sword—in their land. They were certain he would kick them all the way back to Rome. Not only that, but Jesus showed himself to be a great man, a great teacher, a great friend. Then at the height of popularity, this incredible person was tragically killed and tossed in a grave to rot. Imagine the letdown, the disappointment.
But things aren't always as they seem. And, as they say, the darkest part of the night is the moment before dawn. If anything, Jesus' death and burial ought to teach us that the worst part might not be the end of the story. We have all experienced some sort of crisis. We have all been through times when things seemed so dark and despairing that we were ready to call it quits—thinking the game was over and we had lost everything.
But the story of the crucifixion shows us that the game was not over. Yes, there would be resurrection. And that's so important—and our great hope for our own resurrection and eternal future. It also gives us hope for getting through our current crises. Good can follow bad. The resurrection teaches us that. But in looking at the resurrection, we must also remember the great good that came out of Jesus' suffering, crucifixion and terrible death. All this showed just how much God loves us. That death also became the means of forgiveness of sins and opened the doorway wide open to heaven. His death became our hope and healing. As it says in 1 Peter 2:24 (NIRV): "He himself carried our sins in his body on the cross. He did it so that we would die as far as sins are concerned. Then we would lead godly lives. His wounds have made you whole."
As we look at Jesus' suffering, however, we need to remember something. His suffering wasn't just about his painful death on the cross. It wasn't just about all those whippings, beatings and that crown of thorns crushed down on his head.
Have you ever had a friend betray your confidence? So did Jesus. Have you ever had a friend deny you at a moment when you needed someone to stick up for you? So did Jesus. Have you ever been misunderstood? So was Jesus. Have you ever had people accuse you of things you never did? It happened to Jesus, too. Have you ever felt alone in this world? Jesus knows the feeling. He experienced it, too.
Jesus' suffering is really incredible once you stop and think about it. Perhaps we often easily turn to him for help because, way down inside, we know we are praying to someone who understands what we're going through. Sometimes there's great comfort in having our sadness understood by someone else who knows how we feel.
What are you going through right now that seems too difficult to handle? Turn your pain into a prayer. Ask God to help you see and better understand his own suffering (if you need a reminder, read Mark 14:32-15:37). Ask God to help you see how much he understands your deepest hurts. Then thank him for his sacrificial love. And thank him that, by his painful wounds, you are truly made whole.
Written by Jerry and Grady Root