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Thursday, August 16, 2018
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We Believe

Died and was Buried

by Rich Maffeo

Creed Statement:
He suffered, died, and was buried

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things no seen…… (Hebrews 11:1 NASB).

This was not simply disappointment. It was gut-wrenching tragedy. Their hopes for freedom from Roman tyranny lay stained with blood at their feet. Their confidence in a future of peace was nailed with Him to a splintered cross. Grief threatened to smother them. The Virgin cradled her Son's head and wept. The disciples beat their breasts and mourned their teacher and friend.

Cruelty and death seemed victorious. Desperation reigned.

It's a familiar and personal story for many of us. Who hasn't experienced the death of hope, a wounded spirit, or haunting despair? Like ashes on the tongue, who hasn't known failure, self-doubt and the needless litany of "what-ifs"? Children drift from the faith as they become adults.

Marriages fail. Addictions bind loved ones in shackles stronger than those that held the demoniac (Mark 5:1-4). And we look at heaven and wonder if God knows we're alive. Or if he cares.

When devilish doubts pierce my faith, I try to focus on Calvary because that mournful hill reminds me Friday looks darkest before Resurrection Sunday.

Jesus did so much more than simply die on that cross. His death proved God's faithfulness to His many promises in Scripture to send a Savior. As early as Genesis 3:15, the Father promised the human family a Redeemer, someone to free us from the Serpent's grasp, to take captivity captive." On Friday, Satan bruised God's heel. On Resurrection Sunday, God crushed Satan's head.

Jesus' death ripped apart sin's impenetrable barrier that separated us from God. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear" Isaiah 59:2 NASB). But on that Friday, God shattered the barrier. Laying our sins on Christ's shoulders (Isaiah 53:5,6), the Father threw open the gates of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Jesus' death proved God's love for us. It's easy to skim over John 3:16 and not sense the searing emotions the Father suffered as He watched His Son agonize on Calvary. But when we meditate on Christ's scourging, the spikes, and His wounds, we can better understand the passion behind the meaning of that verse - God solved me, that He gave His Son.

Jesus 'death clothed us with righteousness. The harlot, the thief, murderer, adulterer… think of it! There is no sin that cannot be cleaned by Christ's blood. There is no penitent sinner who cannot be made as righteous before God's eyes as Jesus Himself (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Finally - if there can be a final point about Christ's death - the Savior's death challenges us to repentance. When the crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 2:22-41) learned it was their sins that nailed Christ to the cross, "they were cut to the hear." In union they cried, "Brethren, what shall we do?" St. Peter responded, "Repent," and three thousand were baptized and added to the Church.

Jesus' death seemed the end of hope to those gathered around the cross because no one knew Sunday was coming. But you and I know better. When we recite, "He suffered, died, and was buried," we remind ourselves God knows us, God cares….And Sunday is coming.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know Sunday is coming, but the time between Friday and Sunday sometimes seems so terribly long. Give me grace to wait in faith, to trust that You, who began the good work in us and in those we love, will complete it, Amen.

Next time: He rose again

These meditations are compiled in Richard Maffeo's book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website.

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