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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
3. Father Forgive Them
Jesus asked for the forgiveness of those who even carried out His own death.
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.