Summary: This sermon examines the suffering of Jesus Christ under Pontius Pilate.
He Suffered Under Pontius Pilate
As we continue our series in The Apostles’ Creed I would like to examine today what it means that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate. Please listen as I recite the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Artist William Holman Hunt spent 1870-73 in the Holy Land, where he painted Shadow of Death. The work depicts a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. Jesus is standing by a wooden trestle on which he has put his saw. Lifting his eyes toward heaven, Jesus stretches and raises both arms above his head. The evening sunlight streaming through the open door casts a dark shadow in the form of a cross on the wall behind him, making his tool rack appear as a horizontal bar on which his hands have been fastened. The tools themselves look like the fateful hammer and nails.
Though the idea came from an artist’s imagination, it is accurate. From Jesus’ youth, the cross cast its shadow over him. Jesus was born to die. In fact, Jesus’ life was a life of suffering.
We come today to the article in the Apostles’ Creed in which we affirm our faith in Jesus Christ who suffered under Pontius Pilate. I would like to examine the meaning of this article by simply dividing it into two. First, let’s look at, “He suffered.” And second, let’s look at, “under Pontius Pilate.”
I. He Suffered
First, he suffered.
Several questions come to mind as we examine the suffering of Jesus Christ.
A. Who Suffered?
First, who suffered?
Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity is the one who suffered. It was not the Father who suffered. Nor was it the Holy Spirit who suffered. No. It was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity who suffered.
B. How Did Christ Suffer?
Second, how did Christ suffer?
Jesus Christ suffered in body and soul.
There was a time when attention was fixed exclusively on the bodily suffering of Christ.
Later on it became customary to minimize the bodily suffering of Christ, since it was felt that sin, being of a spiritual nature, could only be atoned for by purely spiritual suffering.
These one-sided views are both wrong. Jesus Christ suffered in body and soul for sin, and he bore the punishment for sin in both body and soul.
C. What Did Christ Suffer?
Third, what did Christ suffer?
Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.
God, who is holy, hates sin. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
We have a popular view in many of our churches today that says that “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” The truth is that God not only hates sin, he in fact hates the sinner too. These are strong words, but this is what the Scriptures teach.
For example, Psalm 5:4-5 says: “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” God does not simply hate wrongdoing; he hates “all who do wrong.”
John 3:36 says: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Notice that God’s wrath does not remain on sin; it in fact remains the sinner.
Jesus suffered the wrath of God, which was directed, not merely toward sin, but, toward sinners.
D. When Did Christ Suffer?
Fourth, when did Christ suffer?
Christ suffered during his entire life on earth, but especially at the end.
Christ suffered at the start of his life by taking the very nature of a servant and being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:7).
He suffered in his private life by taking up residence with a family living under oppression and in obscurity.
He suffered in his public life by engaging in conflict with his enemies.
And he suffered at the end of his life by dying on a cross for sin that was not his own.