Did Jesus Christ have to Suffer at the hands of Pilate?

I believe pontius pilate

Why would a statement about the suffering of Jesus Christ be included in a list of core Christian beliefs? At first glance, it may seem odd. But there are two very important points we can glean from this sentence.

First, it grounds the person of Jesus Christ very firmly in history. Pilate was a real person who lived in a specific (and known) period of time. Even extra-biblical sources (Josephus and Tacitus) mention Pilate in relation to Jesus. So, like it or not, He was there, He existed, and you must deal with that reality.

Second, you may notice that the Creed jumps from His birth to this statement, completely overlooking His childhood and ministry years. Why? Perhaps because “Christ’s life is not a subject for belief, but for example and emulation.”[1]In other words, while it is good to know what the Gospels tell us about Jesus and His ministry, those facts will not save you. At best they are a demonstration of how you ought to live as a child of God.

So what makes this statement important? Albert Mohler points out that each segment of the Apostles’ Creed contains an essential truth of the faith and of the gospel itself. Remove any statement from the creed’s affirmations, and the whole of Christianity tumbles. Yet how could affirming that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate amount to a fundamental truth upon which the church must stand? What is essential about the suffering of Jesus Christ?[2]

Was the suffering of Jesus Christ predicted by Isaiah?

Isaiah spoke of the suffering of Jesus Christ and the reason for it:

Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

The suffering that Jesus Christ endured under Pontius Pilate and on the cross are essential parts of the salvation story. Jesus took upon Himself the suffering that we deserved because of our sin. He willingly went to the cross to bear that suffering for us. In fact, Scriptures tell us that He came to earth for that very reason. 

Christ suffered so that we who have faith in him will never endure the fires of hell. The sufferings of Christ, therefore, call each and every one of us to respond.”[3]

How will you respond to the suffering of Jesus Christ?

[1] C. Donald Cole, All You Need to Believe (Foundations of the Faith) (Moody Publishers, Kindle Edition), p. 45.

[2] R. Albert Mohler, The Apostles’ Creed (Thomas Nelson, Kindle Edition), p. 56.

[3] Ibid., p. 66, emphasis added.

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