The Nicene Creed
Crucified under Pontius Pilate, Suffered, Buried
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried
There are things we wish might have been said in the Creed; for instance, something about his sinless life, his miraculous signs, his wonderful teachings, his innumerable works of mercy. But the Creed was meant to address only those matters which were most necessary and debated at that time. Even so, the bishops bequeathed to us a Creed which is as comprehensive as any could ever hope to be in so few words.
After affirming his Incarnation, that Creed rushes to his crucifixion, showing us that it was for this that he came. The crucifixion was not a surprise to God; it was prophesied in Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53, and a host of other Old Testament passages. In short, he came to die—and to rise again, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. Moreover, he died and was buried, indicating that his death was real. It was no fabrication. The gospels never suggest that because he was the Son of God he really didn’t die. Jesus died on the cross. His soul parted from his body which was left lifeless in a tomb. And all of this was for us and for our salvation. Upon his resurrection, it is that blood which he spilt which washes away our sins, reconciles us unto his Father, and sets us on a path of growing in holiness as His Holy Spirit works his will and way in our lives. Our Lord’s Incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection is all about our redemption. Even after our rebellion, our God would not leave us behind.
I must say something about “under Pontius Pilate.” Why that? Was that line necessary? Yes, it was—and is. It’s not because Christians have a chip on their shoulders about Pilate. Pilate’s name bears out the historicity of our Lord’s crucifixion. Pontius Pilate was Procurator over Judea when our Lord was condemned. His name is in ancient records other than the Bible; he can be dated—which is all to say that ours is an historical faith. The biblical record is steeped in history and verified by hundreds of sources. No book has ever been subjected to so much scrutiny. And yet, it endures the test of time, and most especially in the billions of lives it has touched over the millennia.
Yes, our Lord came down from heaven all for the purpose of paying the price for our sin and winning us back to our God and King. And in between those two events was the most selfless life ever lived. What a God!