Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.
- John 19:1
“suffered under Pontius Pilate”
- from The Apostles’ Creed
Up to this point in the Creed, the story about Jesus could have happened anywhere or not at all. It could just be a great myth.
Pontius Pilate was an infamous historical character. He served as the prefect of the Roman province of Judea from 26-36 CE. Both Philo of Alexandria and Josephus (ancient Jewish historians) comment on Pilate and mention his cruelty toward his subjects. Including Pontius Pilate in the Creed further grounds the Creed in actual history.
The Creed’s central narrative gets more and more earthy as it goes along. It makes sure we see Jesus’ humanity. And in Jesus, we see God suffering for his people.
The New Testament spills more ink on Jesus’ suffering than his death. We see the insults and beatings, the carrying of the cross and piercing of his side. But Jesus’ actual death is captured in just a line or two.
Why do we need to know that Jesus suffered?
Suffering is a part of being human. That Jesus suffers as we do gives us confidence that he can do something about our suffering. It’s not foreign to him.
We have a savior who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He not only understands suffering, he also understands what it’s like to suffer. He has been through it too.
Lastly, we are invited to share in his sufferings. Our suffering and his are mingled together as we share our lives with him. In him, nothing is wasted and even the worst is turned toward the better.
Bring your sufferings to him today. Ask him to bring relief, to give strength and to redeem all that you’ve suffered … as you share life with him.