This week we are looking at the part of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed which reads, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.” Luther’s corresponding explanation is, “At great cost he has saved and redeemed me, a lost and condemned person. He has freed me from sin, death, and power of the devil – not with silver or gold, but with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.”
This part of the Creed describes the work the God/Man accomplished on our behalf for our salvation. And Luther’s explanation gives a succinct summary of what is meant by “salvation”. It is being freed from sin, death, and the power of the devil. So when someone asks you, what have you been saved from? You can answer, from sin, death, and the devil!
And how have we been saved or rescued? A price had to be paid. This cost is much greater than what can be measured in silver and gold. It involved the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, suffering and dying on our behalf! That’s what is meant by paying with his blood.
Now there are a number of ways described in Scripture for how Jesus’ death accomplished our deliverance. They give rise to a number of “atonement” theories. Such notions involve Jesus being a substitute, a scapegoat, a ransom satisfaction, a surreptitious victor, among others. But they all involve that fact that Jesus was innocent, and that as God he could exercise decisive power over death and the devil.
Jesus’ third day resurrection is the ultimate demonstration that he indeed swallows up death and can free us and grant to us at his return a similar resurrection from the grave. This makes his death on the Cross the great victory and the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.
Since You Asked…
Why do we stand during the reading of the Gospel Lesson?
By standing we are giving expression of special respect and adoration. In the Gospel Accounts we meet our Lord Jesus Christ in a special way. In these writings we are presented with Jesus’ Judean and Galilean ministry. We also have a record of the very words of our Lord (his teachings, parables, dialog, etc.). We hear the accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the work of our salvation.
Although the entire Bible is the Word of God, it is in the Gospels that our Lord is most directly presented to us. So you might say that Christ himself is being presented before us in the Gospel Lesson. It is therefore most appropriate that we stand at attention.