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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
“Suffered Under Pontius Pilate”

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Matthew 26:24–31

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“Suffered under Pontius Pilate”

Pulling It Together

Pilate, as governor of the Roman province of Judea, presided over the trial of Jesus Christ. The trial, a sham, complete with trumped-up charges, an all-too-literal whipping boy, and a villain set free, would see Jesus spit upon, humiliated, scourged, a crown of thorns pressed into his scalp, and finally crucified as a common criminal. When we say that Jesus suffered under Pilate, we do not mean to say that Pilate’s own hand beat him, whipped him, and crucified him. We mean all that Jesus suffered was received under Pilate's governance. But more than that, we mean he really and truly suffered. His suffering was not a sham.

Did he have to suffer? No. With a word, he could have had 20,000 angels come to his defense (Matt 26:53). He suffered willingly. An innocent man—the sinless Son of Man—wrongly suffered, but not needlessly. It did us an eternity of good. So, we confess that for our sin and for the sin of the whole world, “Christ bore his suffering on the cross and thereby transformed all suffering and every cross into a blessing” (Luther’s Works, vol 43, p 27).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for willingly suffering for my sin. Amen. 


"Why Did Jesus Have to Die?" examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

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