Summary: This sermon examines the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus Christ.
As we continue our series in The Apostles’ Creed I would like to examine today what it means to believe that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. 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.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the climax of redemptive history, the focal point of God’s plan of salvation. God’s redeeming work culminated in the cross, where the Lord Jesus Christ bore the sins of his people.
Furthermore, in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the wickedness of man reached its apex. The execution of the Savior was the vilest expression of evil in human history, the utter depth of man’s depravity.
The death of Christ was therefore the supreme revelation of the gracious love of God while also at the same time being the ultimate expression of the sinfulness of man.
Commentator David Thomas wrote:
"For thousands of years wickedness had been growing. It had wrought deeds of impiety and crime that had wrung the ages with agony, and often roused the justice of the universe to roll her fiery thunderbolts of retribution through the world. But now it had grown to full maturity; it stands around the cross in such gigantic proportions as had never been seen before; it works an enormity before which the mightiest of its past exploits dwindle into insignificance, and pale into dimness. It crucifies the Lord of life and glory."
Today we come to that part of the Apostles’ Creed in which we affirm our faith in Jesus Christ who was crucified, died, and was buried.
Let us then examine the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus Christ.
I. The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
First, let’s examine the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ chronologically by examining the events preceding the crucifixion, the events accompanying the crucifixion, and the events following the crucifixion.
A. The Events Preceding the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Notice first, the events preceding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Three events preceded the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that are worthy of note.
First, the Romans whipped Jesus Christ. Matthew records that Pilate “had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26).
Flogging was common among the Romans. All those condemned to crucifixion were first beaten. At the destruction of Jerusalem, for example, the historian Josephus tells us that “the Jews were, in the first place, whipped, and tortured with all sorts of stripes, and then crucified.”
Interestingly, Pilate, who ordered Jesus flogged, did not want him crucified. In response to the Jewish demands that Jesus be crucified, Pilate responded by saying: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him” (Luke 23:22).
Pilate saw the unrelenting hatred of the Jews toward Jesus, since, in spite of all his exertions to the contrary, they obstinately demanded the crucifixion of Jesus.
He also knew that if Jesus was crucified he would have to be whipped.
But in ordering the whipping of Jesus Pilate had two objectives in view.
The first objective was to soften the hearts of the hard-hearted Jews. If they saw how terrible Jesus looked after the whipping, perhaps they would relent and no longer demand his crucifixion.
But, in the event that the Jews did not relent, he would have succeeded in the accomplishment of his second objective, namely, the flogging of a condemned criminal before crucifixion.
And so Jesus was brutally scourged. If you saw the movie The Passion of the Christ you undoubtedly recall the powerfully moving scourging scene. The Romans tied Jesus to a pole, stripped him naked, and two soldiers whipped Jesus across his back.
The whip’s leather thongs was fitted with pieces of bone, lead, or other metal so that as the whip struck Jesus’ body it tore open his flesh from his shoulders to his buttocks. Frequently, such a whipping left the victim dead but Jesus obviously survived the whipping.
Second, the cross was laid upon Jesus. Again, Matthew records that after the scourging, “as they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross” (Matthew 27:32).