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I Believe What I Believe

The Apostleís Creed

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(10/24) Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was Crucified, Died, Buried, He Descended to hell (the Dead?)

Last week we looked at Christmas. Today we look at Good Friday, and next week- Easter.

Mel Gibson is without a doubt, a controversial person. Can be a subtle comic, or a deadly warrior. Most of His movies, I can only watch one time because of their graphic violence. Forever Young and some others, I could watch again but movies like:

Braveheart, The Patriot, We Were Soldiers, Lethal Weaponís (I actually only saw 2 of them- 1 time each)

And then there is the 2004 movie- The Passion of the Christ. I actually watched that one twice. I even own it and canít watch it. Yet, I can tell you that, that is perhaps the most realistic account of what happened to our Lord Jesus. (Passion picture of Jesus on the Cross.)

Stand and open your Bibles as we read Acts 2:22-23, please.

The word Passion that we use for the movie and the week leading up to Jesusí death each year, does not refer to something that He loved. The word passion comes from the Greek word, Pascho, which means suffering.

Isaiah says, He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Think of it. We know on least 4 occasions, before His passion week, people wanted to kill Him, (Luke 4, John 5, 8, 10). We know that some Samaritans would not let Him pass through their town (Luke 9:51), We know that some Gentiles ran Him out of their country (Luke 8:37). We know that the sick, possessed, and funerals grieved His heart as He ministered to those whose lives had been so effected by the results of sin in this world. He was ridiculed, mocked, and rejected. At the beginning of Passion week, before He entered Jerusalem, He stopped on a hillside and wept uncontrollably because he knew the fate of the city and the people that He wanted to save. The condition of humanity and their impending doom breaks the heart of the one who created it. If you ever had a child that chose a way of life or belief system that is totally opposite of your own, you have a small glimpse of the heart of Jesus.

The Creed says, He Suffered under Pontius Pilate.

Have any of you ever gone through Hell Week? It is a week during college, when students try to join a fraternity or sorority and are subjected in intense and often extremely humiliating hazing. Some schools have banned the process as some students have died.

The United States Navy Seals have what is the most intense training our military gives and it is called Hell Week. This is what Kris Kyle and the ones who took out Osama Ben Laden, went through.

Jesus went through His own Hell Week. Look at John 12:23-33, 23 But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

27 "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ĎFather, save Me from this hourí? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name."

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him."

30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die. Look back at verse 27, you donít read it, but I want to tell you, this was said with intense emotion. "My soul is Horrified, or anxious, agitated, shook up! I know that we donít like to think of this or you may say, Gary you are wrong, but it implies He was frightened by what laid ahead. "I am scared!" he was about to go through more than any one person has ever had to endure. This is also implied (the horror, anxiety, agitation, and more) in the garden of Gethsemane. Look at Luke 22:42-46. "And He was withdrawn from them about a stoneís throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

An angel appeared to strengthen Him, how I donít know. But the mental stress was so intense that blood oozed through His pores. This is a condition that only occurs under unimaginable stress and agony. But did you notice that in both passages the goal of His agony was to accomplish the will and glory of His Father. Like the BUDS, he knew that this agony had a higher purpose, it had to happen to accomplish His mission. That mission was the search and rescue of lost sheep. That would be us.

First, consider the Mental Suffering.

1. He was being betrayed by one whom He loved

2. He knew He would be denied by one who loved Him

3. He knew that all 12 would flee from Him when He needed them most.

4. He was rejected by His creation, that He came to rescue. They chose a murderer and terrorist over Him when it came to life and death choices.

5. He knew the physical, and spiritual pain that was ahead of Him with the arrest, trials, beatings, etc.

6. Then there is the painful death of the cross, the humiliation of hanging naked before the world, and the separation from the Father. His mind could feel the pain of hell, that awaited Him, and blood oozed through His pores.

Imagine having all of that on your mind. Did you ever have a meeting ahead of you that you dreaded? A confrontation that you knew could not be avoided? Some place that you had to go, but rather take a beating than go there? Multiply that? By what I canít even imagine.

Second, Consider the Physical Suffering.

1. Luke 22:63-65 (Mark 14:65) Mocked and beat Him while He waited to be interrogated. And after He was accused by Sanhedrin

2. John 18:22 - Beaten when He answered the High Priest

3. Luke 23:11- Treated with contempt and mocked by Herod and his men of war.

4. Isaiah 50:6, says that they pulled His beard out. He was spit on

5. Scourged Ė Beaten with a flagellum, an instrument composed of a handle and leather straps that had nails, bone, or other sharp objects in the end, that would ripe the body open on His back, buttocks, and legs, as he was tied to a post. (Mark 15:15) (the Passion)

6. Clothed in Purple. Crown of Thorns, long needle like thorns, and then struck on the head with a reed and spit on. And then that robe was torn off His back as the blood would begin to dry and make it stick. Imagine the pain. Isaiah 52:14 says, "Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;" (Show Video from the Passion). He was beaten beyond recognition, He no longer even looked like a man, certainly not like the man everyone knew.

All of this was done under the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. Pilate was the Roman authority over Judea from 26-36 A.D. Pilate is a good illustration of the worldís response to Jesus. He knew Jesus was not a criminal. Maybe from rumors about Jesus and or His wife who warned him not to have anything to do with Jesus, but Pilate did not want to crucify Jesus. He had crucified a lot of people. The Jewish Historian Josephus tells us that during Jesusí time on earth over 30,000 Jews were crucified.

The Romans would conquer people and those they did not enslave were allowed to self-govern under Roman eyes, but they could not condemn a man to death without Roman authority. So, the Sanhedrin knew they had to bring Jesus to Pilate.

Pilate thought that perhaps, pain and torture would suffice they Jews desire for punishment of Jesus, but it did not. He thought that if presented with a choice between a Rabbi and a Terrorist, they would choose the Rabbi, they did not.

Then he was confronted with his own self-preservation. The Jews threatened to tell Rome that Jesus claimed to be a king. Not to respond would have been a disaster to Pilate. He would be removed from his ambition and future and perhaps sentenced to die for not exalting Rome over a lowly peasant king. So knowing that Jesus was special and not deserving of death, he caved and saved his life while probably sacrificing his soul. Though there are legends that say that Pilate was converted and died for being a Christian. I donít know about that! But He ordered the crucifixion.

7. Crucifixion was a horrible invention of man used for centuries by Nations

other than Rome, but adopted by Rome as a horrible way to deal with rebels and slaves and criminals. It was meant to not only kill but to kill with as much agony as possible and to be a deterrent to others who would seek to rebel against Roman authority.

The condemned would often be scourged as we described earlier, then forced to carry his cross to the place of execution with a placard around his neck telling of his crime, or carried by a soldier. He would be nailed through the wrists, not the hands, and also tied up so he could fall off. Sometimes there would be a small seat on the cross, sometimes not. He would be nailed or have his feet tied to the cross. Death would be slow and painful as the raw back would have to rake against the cross every time a breath was taken. The hands and back and feet would be in excruciating pain as one has to have some support for the diaphragm to operate in drawing in and letting air out of the lungs. Exposure, dehydration, fever, and eventually asphyxiation would eventually claim the life of the crucified. Sometimes, as cruel as it sounds, the legs would be broken to prevent the person from being able to brace enough to breathe, and death would come quicker as what happened to the two criminals that died along side of Jesus that day.

Usually the person would be burned after death along with his cross, or left to rot and be eaten by carrions. Until the bare bones fell to the ground. All as a message to anyone who would challenge Rome.

This is the horrible physical pain that tormented the mind of our Lord that Hell week.

Third, consider His Spiritual pain.

While He was on the cross, He cried out, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?" The words of Psalm 22:1 on His mind. And darkness covered the earth for 3 hours. A horrible eerie darkness, as God the Father turned His face away from His Son, our savior, I cannot begin to understand what or how it happened that day, but this I know, Jesus suffered the horrors of hell. What every person who dies in their sins has or will experience, Jesus experienced. Whatever you imagine hell to be, one thing is certain, there will be no light, no love, no, peace, no grace, no goodness, because there will be no God. Those in hell will forever be separated from the God of Wonders.

Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified and died, He was dead.

Was Buried.

We know that a secret disciple named Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus and along with Nicodemus, he properly prepared and buried Jesus in His own tomb.

He descended to hell, or the realm of the dead. What does that mean? I really donít know! There are a lot of theories.

ē Like Jesus told Satan and the demons that their fate was sealed.

ē Like some who died never hearing of Jesus were given a chance to respond after death.

ē Like the realm of the dead, hades or Sheol was a place where all the dead go. And it was divided into two parts. One part could see the other, but could not cross over as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. All the saved were in a part that was considered paradise and the un-saved- or lost were in hell to await their final sentencing and appointment to the Lake of fire. When Jesus died it is thought He led captivity captive, or took all who believe and followed God, the saved before His death, home to heaven to live in the presence of the Father. It is thought that no one could enter heaven until the final price for their sins had been paid.

ē Some think it just is reaffirming that He was dead, on the other side until the third day.

Fourth, He suffered Purposely

Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried and descended into the realm of the dead. I believe what I believe. I trust this, I stake my life, and my future on this. But why? What is the meaning and the significance for me? How does the suffering and death of Jesus affect my life?

I used to criticize our Catholic friends for the crucifix. The constant symbol of Jesus on the cross. I would say, "Jesus is not on the cross anymore, He was buried and rose again and ascended into heaven where He sits on the right hand of the Father and from which He will come to judge the living and the dead." But the crucifix is a symbol of the depth of Godís love for you and I. The Apostle Paul would say that He prayed for the church at Ephesus for this, "17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and heightó 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-19). The old song says, "Oh the deep, deep love of JesusÖ"

The God of the Bible, the God of the Creed, who is the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth is a Holy God, He told our first Parents not to sin or they would die, but they ignored His warning to heed a lie and they brought death and hell to all humanity. Never forget Romans 5:12,"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Isaiah tells us, "Behold, the Lordís hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2) Thatís what our sins do, they separate us from God, and the end result is that we will go into eternity separated from God, and that my friends is hell. Paul reminds us that we are enemies of God because of our sins and that the wages, what we have earned for our sins is death. That death is referred to in the Revelation as the second death and it is the forever separation from God in the Lake of Fire, eternal hell.

But God so loved the world; that is, God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we yet sinners Christ died for us, on our behalf, for us.

Listen carefully, Jesus suffered hell week so we could be saved from hell forever. BAM!

Peter says this, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit," (1 Peter 3:18). He suffered and died so He could bring us to God. To Reconcile us to God. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18). "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die,

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Rom. 5:8-11)

It was not for close friends that Jesus died. We could understand that. He, Himself said that there is no greater love than this that a man would lay down for His friends. (John 15:13)

None say it better than Isaiah 52:13-53:12, please turn there and follow as I read.

No one can explain to my finite mind, the deep love of God, who would do that for me. The hymn writer asks the question, "Why would He love me so, why would my Savior to Calvary go?" Why? I know what I have done, and you know what you have done. You know the thoughts that go through your mind. Thoughts of lusts, and greed, and revenge. You know what you are capable of doing if left to yourself. You know that you can be both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

But Jesus agreed to the Fatherís plan to suffer and to die, to experience the absolute worse of humanity so we could experience the absolute best of God. Jesus suffered hell week to give us the gift of forgiveness and adoption by the Father. He suffered so we could have peace with God and the peace of God. He suffered so we can rest in the assurance of eternal life. He suffered so He could bring us home to the place He has prepared for us.

Thatís why we love the cross and the crucifix. That symbol of the worst of man, became the symbol of the best of God.

Listen to Hebrews 9:22-28, "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of anotheró 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."

But, we have to trust in that with all our hearts, and all our being. Have you done that?

Wait, that involves repentance, a willingness to turn away from self-centered living and turn to God to receive the forgiveness and life that was procured by Jesus on that cross.

I would suggest there is at least one more. It involves the obligation, to live our lives to honor the one who died for us. Paul says it this way. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor. 5:13-15)

It is saying and following through with the willingness to live the rest of my life, not for myself but for Him. My life belongs to Him. He paid the price for my redemption, He freed me from Satanís power, freed me from the power of my sins, freed me from sins penalty and asks me to follow Him now, and live for Him. Have you done that? No excuses. Have you done that? I would like to But!!! First I have toÖ.. No, have you said, I will live from this moment on for the one who loved me and gave himself for me. Paul says it is reasonable and it is the right thing to do. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman