was crucified, dead, and buried

(This is part seven of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

This entry talks about the second most important event in human history; the day that Jesus

“was crucified, dead, and buried.”

Once again, I’ll break it up into chunks and look at all three components of this line and why they matter.

“was crucified” – It’s been said that grace is free but it ain’t cheap. This event is exactly what that statement is referring to. Jesus, an innocent man, was crucified for sinful people. Jesus was brought before the crowds right before his crucifixion along with a man named Barabbas. Barabbas was a murderer, a violent man, a rebel (Mark 15:7). Pilate, who we discussed in the last entry, offered to let one man go: Jesus or Barabbas (Mark 15:9). It’s easy, at this point, for us to resent the murderous rebel who got to go free; for us to wish that Jesus had been set free. But I think at that moment all mankind was symbolized by Barabbas. The guilty rebel, with blood on his hands, was set free while the innocent Son of God was delivered to Roman soldiers to be scourged and crucified. I am Barabbas… and so are you. We should realize that we are the guilty murderous rebels that have been set free.What shall we do with this freedom that has been purchased on our behalf and given to us as a gift (Galatians 5:22)?

Next, Jesus was subjected to the most painful execution method in human history. The death of the Messiah was actually prophesied before crucifixion even existed (Psalm 22:16; John 20:20, 25), but that his how He died. We hear this all the time: “Christ was crucified.” We become numb to it. Yet, crucifixion was so horrible, a word was invented to describe it: excruciating. Excruciating means literally “from the cross.” That’s how painful it was. There are many people who do a better job of explaining this than I do. Here’s a link to the Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion that describes the physical pain our Saviour experienced for us. It was horrendous!

Sometimes crucifixion could last for days. Jesus was so weak from being flogged (Isaiah 52:14; Mark 15:15, Luke 22:63-65, John 19:1) and so dehydrated (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28) that He died quickly (Mark 15:44). Sometimes, to hurry the dying process the Romans would break the legs of the person on the cross. Jesus’ legs were not broken, which is important for several reasons. First, Jesus was the Passover Lamb; in John 1:29, John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” According to the Passover instructions, the sacrificial lamb was not allowed to have any broken bones (Exodus 12:46). Additionally, this was consistent with Messianic prophecies that described Jesus’ death (Psalm 22:17; John 19:31-36). Finally, after several hours, Jesus declared that His work was finished (John 19:30), and was…

“dead” – Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, and John 19:33 all agree that Jesus was dead. Some people have claimed that Jesus merely passed out and later woke up from His nap. Although medical science has progressed over the last 2,000 or so years, people back in Jesus’ time could still tell the difference between someone who was alive and someone who was dead. First there’s Luke; he was the author of the third Gospel and a doctor (Colossians 4:14). If anyone at that time could identify a dead body, it would have been a doctor. Another expert at identifying dead bodies would have been the Roman soldiers who professionally killed people (Mark 15:44-45). It was their job to take living bodies and turn them into dead bodies. Surely they would have been able to identify a dead body? Finally, it’s likely that anyone who witnessed Jesus being scourged, beaten, and then crucified, would have been able to realize He was dead because His body would have been mutilated; this also fulfilled prophetic Scripture (Isaiah 52:14).

“and buried” – After Jesus died, He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43, 46). If Jesus had indeed fainted, it’s likely that without immediate medical attention He would have died in the tomb during the three days He was buried. Also, as Mark 15:46 mentions, a large stone was rolled in front of the entrance. It would have been impossible for Jesus, after His body had sustained so much damage, to move the stone. Jesus’ burial in a rich man’s grave also fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9 (Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42).

We find that there is compelling evidence that Jesus was certainly crucified, dead, and buried. Isaiah 53:6 summarizes these events best:
“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”

Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us why He did this:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We’ll explore these themes further in a later post…

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suffered under Pontius Pilate

(This is part six of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

We’re still talking about Jesus. Mainly because Jesus Christ is the definitive character of Christianity. This entry looks specifically at the line that says that Jesus:
“suffered under Pontius Pilate,”
Like before, we’ll break this passage down into several smaller sections.

Romans 1:20 and the tribes in Africa

“What about the tribe in Africa that’s never heard of Jesus?” I’ve had a handful of people ask me questions like this and I know a lot of people who have been asked similar questions. “Does a tribe in an isolated part of the world that’s never heard of Jesus go to hell for not accepting Him as their savior? That hardly sounds like a loving God!”

In short, people are only held accountable for what they know. The Bible says in Romans 1:19-20 that creation alone proclaims that it has a Maker. This is called God’s “general revelation.” Indeed, it is hard to look at the stars or a mountain landscape and not feel a sense of grandeur and realize that you are a very, very small speck. Psalm 19:1-6 says that the stars declare and proclaim God’s work; there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. In other words, to some degree all creation reveals that there is a God and it has done so in all places, languages, and times in history.

Paul goes on in Romans 2:14-15 to say that when people who do not have God’s Law meet the requirements of that Law, they are showing that in their heart they know that things are supposed to be a certain way and they are trying to meet those requirements. C.S. Lewis calls this “oughtness” in Mere Christianity. This act alone demonstrates a conviction to do “the right thing” even though people fall short.

Although these African tribes may not know the specific requirements of God through head knowledge and even though they may have never heard the name Jesus, the “Law,” or a feeling of how they ought to behave, is written on their hearts. They know the difference between right and wrong. Thus when these hypothetical tribesmen violate their own understanding of what is right, they condemn themselves. Conversely, when they do what they know to be right, their own conscienes defend them. Their clean conscienses save them or their guilty consciences condemn them.

Some people ask this question out of genuine concern, and some ask this question as an excuse to reject God. Again, from Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thig you can do is to remain outside yourself.” His statement makes a lot of sense to me. If I were worried about people getting exposed to acid rain, would it make any sense for me to stay outside in the acid rain because others were unable to go inside? Of course not!

To the non-Christian I would just ask one thing. If, as we stated to start this discussion, you’re only held accountable for what you know, then the only question that remains is this: What will you do with the knowledge you have; will you accept or squander the gift that’s been freely offered to you?

To the Christian I say: What’s keeping you from making sure that everyone knows about the freedom that’s been offered to them?

Redeemable

The Chaplain currently deployed here is one of the best I’ve worked with during my time in the military. Ch. Mansberger does a “Word of the Day” email that he sends out to people all across the base and I’ve really enjoyed them but the one he posted today was my favorite thus far:

“Quote of the day: “The longest journey is the journey inward.” – Dag Hammerskjold

Scripture for the day: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45

As we look at ourselves in the light of God we easily realize we fall short of all we can be. But as we look into our hearts, inward, we see that the truth of God’s word changes us for good. Start that journey inward with God and begin to let your heart overflow with goodness.

On a light note: “A young boy is in the doctor’s office. The doctor says to the child. “I want to see if ‘Barney” is in your heart! “Oh, no”, the boy said. “I have Jesus in my heart. Barney is on my underwear” – Father Rick Boyd

You Are Valuable!

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.
“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him.

I (daniel) think we all want to believe at some point or another that, despite what we’ve been through, we are not beyond redemption. I’ve met people who don’t feel like they’re lovable and it breaks my heart because they are loved more than they will ever know by the Creator of the universe. We have value because God says so, and He proves it by sending Jesus to die for us, so that we can have a reconciled relationship with Him.

Jars of Clay, in their song “Boys (Lesson One),” puts it this way: “Not to undermine the consequences, but you are not what you do.”

Another great band, Tenth Avenue North, in their song “You Are More,” sing,
“You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”

The simple truth is that, through the power and blood of Jesus Christ, we have been separated from what we’ve done. We’ve been forgiven and made clean. We’ve been given new life.

Communion Message

This is the Communion Message I gave a week ago at the campus-lead church service:

Good morning church, my name is Daniel Delgado and I’m going to give a communion message. Today is a campus-led service, so this will be a little longer than most communion messages. I hope we’ve all been touched by the stories that were just shared with us. I also hope that we’ve all seen a common theme of lives changed, hearts set right, and souls liberated. And it’s with the theme of liberation that I’d like to look at communion. The word “communion” comes from the Latin word “communio,” which means “sharing in common.” I think that, as Christians, there are many things we share in common. But arguably, the most important is the fact that we’ve all been liberated from sin and communion is a time to not only remember that, but also to celebrate our liberation! I’m not sure if this is a new take on communion or not, but I’d like to share it with you. Let’s open our bibles to Mark 14:12-16:

12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

We’ve all heard this before and we’ve all had the chance to get bored with it and think we’ve got this passage figured out. But have we dissected it yet? Have we really rolled up our sleeves and dug deep into this passage? Or have we simply taken it at face value? I think if we look carefully, we find that there are a couple questions that beg to be asked:

What is the Feast of Unleavened Bread and what is the significance of Passover?

Well I’m glad you asked, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a celebration established by God in Exodus 12:17-20. This is when the Jews celebrate God liberating His people from slavery in Egypt.

This is like the Jewish Independence Day. Now in America, when we think Independence Day, we think red, white, and blue, fireworks, and barbeques. But for the Jews, this holy holiday is a time of reverence, fasting, and remembering what God has done. This holiday is a little more holy to the Jews of Jesus’ time that the 4th of July is to modern America.

And as we all know, freedom isn’t free, so who paid the price for the Jewish freedom? Well, in order for the Egyptian Pharaoh to set the Jews free, it took ten plagues, culminating with the death of the entire first born population in Egypt. This was especially devastating because the first born was supposed to carry on the family legacy; they received a double-portion of the family inheritance, and were also first in line to inherit the throne in royal families. The loss of an entire generation of firstborns had catastrophic effects to Egypt. Also, up until now, the plagues hadn’t affected Pharaoh—just his subjects—but this hit close to home because now his throne had no heir. There was no on to carry on his legacy. After this the Pharaoh didn’t want to have anything to do with the Jewish people.

From then on, this holiday has been celebrated by the Jews. So here are some key points.

* God’s People were slaves.

* God sacrificed the firstborn.

* God’s people were set free so they could worship God.

* God commanded the Jews to celebrate this liberation with the Passover Feast.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Let’s look at communion. When Jesus, at the Passover Feast, established the Lord’s Supper, he was telling us that The Firstborn over all creation was preparing to die for us to set us free from our bondage to sin. We all know what happens next, Jesus is betrayed and crucified within 24hrs of establishing communion. Coincidence? I doubt it! But it was necessary for Him to die if we were ever going to be set free. It was a cost that had to be paid if God’s people were ever going to see liberation from slavery.

I can’t help but marvel at the connection between the Passover Feast and communion. And as we take communion today, I want us all to think about what we share in common. Communion connects us all. It’s one body, broken into many pieces and becomes a part of us. We all, like God’s people so long ago, have been liberated from slavery.