St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

Catechist. Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief.  

Answer. I believe in… Jesus Christ… crucified, dead, and buried….

In our examination of the fourth article of the Apostles Creed begun last month we examined the sufferings of Christ in general. Now we will examine the latter part of the article in some detail. The things Christ suffered, up to and including His death on the cross, are referred to as His passion. This term derives from the Latin passus, indicating that our Lord was passive in that He suffered at the hands of others. His betrayal (St John 13:21); His agony and bloody sweat (St Luke 22:44); His apprehension as if He were a malefactor (St Matthew 26:55); His desertion by all His disciples (St Matthew 26:56); The insults from the chief priests and their menials. (St John 18:22; St Matthew 26:67; St Mark 14:65; St Luke 22:63, 65) His denial by Peter (St Matthew 26:69); the insults He suffered at the hands of Herod (St Luke 23:8-12); His mock trial before Pilate; His being 
 scourged (St John 19:1); crowned with thorns (St Matthew 27:29); spitted on and mocked (St Matthew 27:30-31). Our Lord was nailed to and hanged naked from a cross. (St Matthew (St John 19:17-18; 20:25) This was the death of a criminal; and it was designed to produce public humiliation and a slow & painful death. After our Lord gave up His spirit, a wealthy disciple, Joseph of Arimathea, buried His body in his own tomb. (St Mark 15:37, 39; 42-46) 

The crucifixion & death of Christ was foretold in the OT, most notably in Isaiah’s Song of the Suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) and in Psalms 22 & 69. Jesus warned His disciples several times of His betrayal & death at the hand of one of their number. (St Matthew 16:21-23; 17:22-23; 20:17-19) And so, this was not some random act carried out by the will of sinful man. As St Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, Jesus was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God and crucified by sinful men.(Acts 2:23) Jesus submitted to His passion & death of His own free will in obedience to the will of His Father in heaven. (St Matthew 26:53, 53; St Luke 23:46; St John 10:15, 17; Philippians 2:5-7) 
Why did Jesus Christ die on the cross? As the Prayer of Consecration at Holy Communion proclaims, by His sacrificial death our Lord made “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world….” As Isaiah foretold, all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6) 

There are several key concepts connected with the understanding of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, all of which are developed in the New Testament and foreshadowed in the sacrifices of the Law of Moses. Christ’s death was a propitiation or expiation. (Romans 3:25; 1 St John 2:2; 4:10) God is all holy & righteous; and so, by His very nature, He is angered by sin. Christ’s sacrifice allows the Holy God to quench His righteous anger at since and still remain holy; in effect blotting out our sin from His sight. As the propitiation for our sin, Christ becomes the means of our reconciliation with God; making peace or atonement between the Holy God whom we have offended and us sinners. (Romans 5:9-11; Hebrews 2:17) Christ’s sacrifice paid the price of our redemption or rescue from the guilt & bondage of sin; and so we are said to be justified from sin. (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24; Revelation 5:9) Our redemption brings with it victory over those forces, spiritual or earthly, that stand between us & God. (Colossians 2:13-15) 

Christ’s sacrificial death is rooted in the love of God; for God is love. (1 St John 4:8, 16) But this love is not some shallow, fleeting sentiment that so often characterizes the love of fallen mankind. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 St John 4:10; see also St John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 8:32)
What should be our response to Christ’s sacrificial death? We are to return God’s love with faith & obedience. We are to turn from those sins that once separated us from God; and give ourselves up to the service of God. (See Romans 6:6, 10-11; 14:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:20;1 Thessalonians 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:14; 1 St Peter 1: 17-19; 2:24; 4:12) This includes the Apostle John’s admonition: Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (1 St John 4:11)