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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

09252016 - 18th Sunday After Trinity - Apostle's Creed - "Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried"

September 25, 2016
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead [died] and [was] buried.

Last week Emmanuel sponsored another Film of Faith for our community entitled, the “Blind Side” at the Sherman Theater.  Though the theme of the movie was not clearly, specifically nor obviously biblical, it touched upon clear issues that are contained in the Bible of caring for our fellow man, taking responsibility when we have the means, and also and most importantly having the courage to stand up in the face of circumstances.
Christians have done this for centuries using as the basis of our choice the model of Jesus Christ.  Some would look at Jesus Christ and say, the ‘price’ Jesus paid is too high.  There are still others when the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” comes on, change the channel or refuse to watch it, because of not only the graphic nature of how the crucifixion was portrayed, but also the reminder or vivid imagery that turns our stomachs.  That is perfectly understandable.  As a parent, I would not be making a wise choice for even my own daughter Sarah to watch the movie, even though it shows the biblical events of Jesus Christ ministry, His life, His death and ultimately His resurrection.
Enter today, this small section of the Apostle’s Creed that we will confess in a few minutes.  We clearly and boldly confess that Jesus Christ, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried”.  With these 9 words we come to the pinnacle of our confession of faith.  By pinnacle, I mean the central point of our Christian faith that has the event that all of Christian history revolves around, but also points to.  Let me unpack this concept of the Cross as the pinnacle of our faith.
In Lutheranism 101 and our study of the Gospel of Mark, I have specifically said many times that the Cross of Jesus Christ is the one event in all of human history that is looked for from the Garden of Eden and which we look back to today.  It isn’t just a cross roads, but it is central to our faith, life and beliefs.  Let me explain.  You see when Jesus Christ hung on the Cross of Calvary, this is the most pivotal point in salvation history.  If you look from the Garden of Eden and the eating of the forbidden fruit by Adam and Eve, with their eating that fruit they set into motion what was ultimately fulfilled only on the Cross of Calvary by Jesus Christ. 
Throughout all of Old Testament history, every successive generation in the Seder or Passover meal, looked for the coming Messiah.  Yet it was not only the coming Messiah, but what He would accomplish.  And Jesus Christ ‘suffering, crucifixion and death’ fulfilled all righteousness for all of mankind.  It completed God’s plan of salvation to bring us to heaven.  It was through Jesus Christ willingness to “suffer under Pontius Pilate” endure the torture and torment of the guards and the crowds, be “crucified” and nailed to the Cross.  Endure the taunts of the crowds and even the pain of even breathing.  And ultimately when Jesus Christ “died” and the curtain that had once separated the Holy of Holies was now for all time and place torn from top to bottom that the fulfillment of the plan of salvation was complete.  For with Jesus Christ final words, “It is finished” signaled salvation history had been fulfilled.  For Jesus Christ in His willingness to suffer and die, Jesus Christ offers us the greatest gift of grace of eternal life.
This is why Jesus Christ death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the Apostle’s being given the Holy Spirit, they then continued telling what Jesus did and offered all of mankind.  For we who gather here today when we hear read the Holy Scriptures from the lectern, sing the songs like “We are Marching in the Light of God”, “We Were Baptized In Christ Jesus” and “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me”, we remind ourselves that our connection to Jesus Christ isn’t just a place we come to on Sunday.  Our connection to Jesus Christ and His offer of grace is personal, powerful, and pivotal for us today.
Our connection is clear, in the font in Holy Baptism, we are baptized into Jesus Christ life, death, but especially His resurrection.  For this is the promise of eternal life made to us, not out of our own deserving, but out of Jesus Christ grace, love and mercy for each and every one of us.  Jesus Christ love was clearly made manifest with His willingness to be nailed to the Cross of Calvary for each and every one of us.  This gift of love and grace is offered to us in order to set us free from our sin, to set us free from our impending death and to set us free from the devil that daily tempts us to doubt and deny God.
Yet, why should we boldly confess this truth?  Simply, because it reorients us back to the truth found in God and His Word.  If you have ever noticed in our sanctuary there are some actions that are very clearly done in order to reorient ourselves back to God.  This is why the candles are lit at the beginning of the service, to remind us of God’s presence among us.  This is why the congregation faces forward for every part of the service, because we need to keep ourselves focused on God, not on our neighbors, not the distractions that constantly happen around us, but only upon God.  This is why our focus should not be on what game we will watch when we get home, or what our schedule for the coming week will be, but our focus should be on our God Who meets us here in His house for worship.  This is why our weekly returning to God’s house can be a power that can transform us.  It is not a transformation into ‘better than someone else Christians’.  We come to God’s house, God’s hospital for the hurt, where we find a Savior Who offers us the salve of the Gospel, freely and without cost, because He paid the ultimate cost.

For Jesus Christ, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried” in order that we might have eternal life.  Jesus Christ offered Himself in order that we may be set free to daily experience His love and grace.  For the centrality of our confession of this part of the Apostle’s Creed not only binds us but solidifies God’s grasp on us.  For our personal connection through our Holy Baptism is to the central and core event of salvation history, the Cross of Jesus Christ.  For our connection is made intimately with our baptism where we are offered eternal life and eternally connected with Jesus Christ when we confess in the words of the Apostle’s Creed with all of Christendom that Jesus Christ, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried”.  AMEN.

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