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Credo 22 ...for our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This article of the creed is unique. It is the only statement in our profession of faith that locates the event of our salvation at a time and place, in other words in history. All four gospels affirm that the Roman governor of the province of Judea who authorised the crucifixion of Jesus was called Pilate. This is also mentioned in Acts (3.13; 4.27; 13.28) and Paul’s first letter to Timothy (6.13).

Luke further establishes the historical context of our salvation: ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness…’ (3.1-2) Luke is concerned to situate historically ‘the things which have been accomplished among us’ (1.1). Why does this make any difference?

God entered human history, encountered humans, was killed by humans: he became a real human being. And this means time and place. It means relationship with real human lives. It means that lived human history has been transformed from within by an historical but universally salvific event. This is why we say for our sake… It was for me, now and in my future, that this past event took place. And not only for the future: ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad’ (Jn 8.56).

In order to have relevance; in order to be effectively real, the Incarnation takes up a moment of our history. A moment, nevertheless, that transforms it all.



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