THE CREED PART IV
“For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
The Passage that we are looking at today in our continued study of the Creed, talks about the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery refers to the Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. We call it a mystery because even though we might not completely understand all of this, we continue to learn about it and grow in our understanding. This particular mystery helps us better understand how Christ destroyed sin and death and gained for us eternal life.
We state here that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Jesus was killed because some of the Jewish leaders believed that He was acting against the law that God had given them. Part of that was the accusation that He had committed blasphemy by saying that He was the Son of God. They wanted to kill Him for all of this, but only the Roman Governor (Pontius Pilate) could give a death sentence. They also knew that Pilate would not put a man to death for an argument over the Jewish religion. So when they brought Jesus to him, they accused Him of calling Himself the King of the Jews, something the Romans would not like. As we all know, Pilate eventually gave in to the demands of the crowd and gave the order to crucify Jesus. We say that this happened “For our sake” because if He had not died, we all would have had to suffer eternal death. We believe that Christ suffered once for all so that we might be saved.
In Matthew 28:11-15, the Roman guards who saw the Resurrection were paid by the chief priests to say that Jesus’ disciples came and carried His body off while they were asleep. There are still people today who think the Resurrection is a hoax; that He never really died or that His body was stolen and hidden. But as we say every Sunday, He died, was buried and rose again just as the Scriptures said it would happen. Again, He did this to free us from death and to show us the way to heaven.
The Apostle’s Creed adds the line “He descended into Hell” before saying He rose. We do not believe He went to Hell for some sort of punishment. Rather, He went to Hell in order to lead all those who had died and were worthy of salvation, into Heaven. Before His Resurrection, no one could enter into Heaven. Jesus had to lead the way.
Forty days after Easter Sunday morning, Jesus then ascended into heaven. We state that and then say that He is “at the right hand of the Father”. Only the most trusted advisor sat at the king’s right hand. So Jesus is the Father’s “right hand man” if you will. We are also saying that they are in Heaven together. This is pretty remarkable. Jesus is in Heaven, body and soul. Not just His soul, but also His body. This gives us hope that we get to do that too. This is what we believe.