In the middle of the Apostles’ Creed, we list certain basic historical facts about our Lord Jesus Christ. We list these facts in order to positively identify that Man in whom we believe.
And who is that Man?
Well, we know that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary, but He also “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”
Here are two reasons why that’s significant:
First, Jesus was rejected by His own people.
When Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, the Jews, the rightful heirs of the kingdom of heaven, pledged allegiance to the kingdom of this world. They rejected their own heaven-sent Messiah-King, and instead proclaimed, “We have no king but Caesar.” They mocked Him, even as He hung there under a sign which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”—an ID tag placed there by Pilate Himself.
Jesus was rejected by His own people.
Second, Jesus was rejected by the rulers of this world.
In Psalm 2, earthly kings are commanded to pay homage to Jesus Christ. But Pontius Pilate, representing Caesar himself, the ruler of the world at that time, gave in to the malice of the Jews, and instead of bowing his knee to the King of kings, put Him to death, even while he declared with his own lips, “I find no guilt in this man.”
Jesus suffered unjustly in the eyes of the whole world. Both Jew and Gentile were plainly shown who He was, and yet both rejected their King.
But this was necessary. In God’s plan, the Messiah was to be despised and rejected by men. Instead of seeking the glory which comes from men, Christ the King wholly set His mind on the glory of God alone.
Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate so that it would be abundantly clear that not by the will of any man did He, the Son of God, ascend to the throne of heaven, but by the will of God the Father alone.