Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The Fourth Article of the Creed.
And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried.
In the fourth article of the Creed, it is stated that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for us during the reign of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor over Judea; He was crucified for our sins and for our salvation, because He Himself was without sin. At that time, He really suffered, died, and was buried.
Of course the Saviour suffered not as God, Who cannot suffer, but as man. He suffered not for His sin, of which He had none, but for the sins of the whole human race. After His death, His body was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. But from the time of the burial until His Resurrection, He descended in soul into hades and liberated all those who believed in Him, beginning with Adam and Eve.
Hades is the name of the place of estrangement from God, devoid of light or bliss. There Satan reigns. In regard to the soul the word "hades" signifies a condition of great affliction and torment.
The Lord Jesus Christ, as perfect man and Son of God, because He by one word is able to annihilate all enemies, voluntarily offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of people through crucifixion on a cross. Execution by hanging on a cross was the most infamous, cruel, and terrible form of capital punishment. It was the symbol of every human evil, and the most striking display of the power of the Devil. This terrible execution, devised by men according to the suggestion of the Devil, subjected people to hate, malice, embitterment and death. The Saviour, having endured disgraceful execution on the Cross, died, but rose from the dead. Through the Cross, life shone forth! Christ destroyed the main support of the Devil, and turned the Cross into an instrument of eternal victory over evil and death. The Lord sanctified the Cross with His pure blood and by His sacrificial heroic feat of love. The most terrible criminal, if he be repentant, is not rejected by the Saviour. From this moment, neither suffering nor death are able to deprive us of eternal bliss if we are with Christ the Saviour. On the contrary, the way of the Cross has become the path to eternal glory in the Kingdom of God.
The words in the Creed "suffered and was buried" were directed against some heretics who falsely taught that the Lord did not suffer torment on the Cross, but that His suffering only appeared to be suffering and death.
The words "under Pontius Pilate" point out the true historical event of the suffering of Christ, which occurred at this specific time. During the hours of Christ’s suffering on the Cross, there was darkness over all the earth (Luke 23:44), states the Evangelist. Early historical writings of the Roman astronomer Phlegontus, Thaddeus, and Julius Africanus note this darkness.
One of these exclaimed, "One of the gods has died!" A well-known philosopher from Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite, was at that time in the city of Heliopolis, in Egypt. Observing the sudden darkness, he said,..".either the Creator is suffering, or the world is coming to an end." Afterwards, after the preaching of the Apostle Paul, Dionysius accepted Christianity and became the first bishop of Athens.
Glory to Thy long-suffering, O Lord! Before Thy Cross we bow down, O Master, and Thy holy
Resurrection we glorify.
The Resurrection of Christ is discussed in the following, fifth article of the Creed