Apostles Creed: Crucifixion

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
— Apostles Creed

This phrase within the Apostles Creed highlights the historicity of Jesus' ministry. He was crucified under the rule of Pontius Pilate by crucifixion. The cross is a powerful and provocative image of the Christian faith. However, the reality of the cross is easily lost on us when we forget that Jesus hung on it for us.

 
 

Jesus, the perfect son of God hanging dead on a wooden cross. Without sin yet willing to take it all upon Himself. The cross shows us that God desires all men to be saved. He went to hell for us. The cross is one of the most profound purposes Jesus had in becoming a man: to undeservedly taste a sinner's death in order to reveal the Father's great love for us.

Here are three stories in the scripture that reveal His great love for people. May they each reveal His lovingkindness toward you in a personal way:

1. Casting Stones

In John 8, the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman to Jesus to have her stoned for the sin of adultery. Jesus responds to them:

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
— John 8:7

What do you hear when Jesus says these words? I hear the love of God ringing in my ears leading me to repentance. How many times have I brought the sins of others before Him asking for their judgment? And how many times have I been rightfully accused and condemned in my sin, yet even still found Jesus defending me with His forgiveness?

As all of her accusers slowly walk away one by one, Jesus addresses the woman:

“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
— John 8:10

Jesus is the only one in this story who had no sin. According to what He said to the Pharisees He would have been the only one with the right to stone her for her sin. And yet He chooses to restore her. He removes a burden she could never relieve herself of: the weight of her sins. When we come face to face with Jesus on the cross, we receive healing from sin and the freedom to cease from the sins of our past in light of His great love for us.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.


— Colossians 2:13-14

2. The Passover Lamb

Jesus took up the cross willingly. He abstained from defending Himself before the religious leaders that accused Him, before Herod, and before Pilate and the Romans.

‘I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ They cried out again, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber.”

Pilate mentions the Passover to the Jews who wish to kill Jesus. Right before Judas' betrayal, Jesus broke bread with His disciples. During this last supper - as the disciples were eating the Passover meal - Jesus shared with them something they could only understand after His death:

“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer...” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
— Luke 22:15; 19-20

Jesus is the Passover lamb sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. Every sacrifice and practice found in the Old Testament foreshadowed the reality of the New Testament: Christ and Christ crucified.

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
— John 10:17-18

3. Father Forgive Them

Jesus asked for the forgiveness of those who even carried out His own death.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
— Luke 23:33-34

There is no end to the extent of God's love. His forgiveness removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. How great must His love be for us! His is a love without end.

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
— Psalm 103:12