SERMON TITLE: “I Believe Jesus Suffered & Died” (The Apostles’ Creed series)
SERMON TEXT: Hebrews 2:10-18
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: January 20, 2019, at First UMC
One of the comic strips that I read regularly is Zits. Day after day, I read about the trials and tribulations of Jeremy’s high school adolescence. Despite the fact that he has very capable and loving parents, to Jeremy, his dentist dad and his housewife mom seem entirely too old-fashioned, they expect him to do far too many chores, and they embarrass him constantly. Despite the fact that he knows he has big school projects coming up, Jeremy frequently leaves his homework until the last minute and has to suffer by staying up all night to get it done. Jeremy has a girlfriend named Sara, and sometimes her hope that he would be considerate of her feelings seems like a terrible burden. In this week’s wintery storyline, Jeremy ran his van off the road and got stuck in a snowbank. The poor guy has such a hard time.
In one of the older comic strips, Jeremy was having a conversation with his best friend Pierce. Sitting on the floor, looking depressed, Jeremy complains, “My childhood was incredibly bland.” In the second frame, he elaborates, “No drama. No heartbreak. No triumph over adversity.” The third frame shows Jeremy with his hands over his face in despair. He bemoans, “Nothing but wall-to-wall middle-class comfort and security!” In the last frame, his friend Pierce reflects philosophically, “Whoa! The suffering of never having suffered!” “No wonder I’m so cranky,” concludes Jeremy.*
Well, the definition of suffering is relative, isn’t it? A homeless person or a foreign migrant fleeing poverty and violence might have something quite different to say. Even our parents who had to walk five miles uphill both ways to school wouldn’t let us get away with Jeremy’s cranky “suffering.”
But, still, suffering is something all us human beings experience in one way or another. And Jesus was no exception to that.
In this New Year’s sermon series on The Apostles’ Creed, we began on January 6 with “I believe in God.” We noted the Christian belief in only one God who is the creator of all things. On January 13, we affirmed, “I believe in Jesus Christ” as God’s Son who is both fully divine and fully human. We noted that this belief is more than an intellectual assent, but also a heartfelt devotion to Jesus our Lord.
We’re not done with Jesus yet, though. Of the 15 lines of The Apostles’ Creed, nine of them are about Jesus. So, today, we’ll continue to describe Jesus with the lines that he “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.” Using Hebrews 2 as our scriptural text, let’s consider what it means to say, “I believe Jesus suffered and died.”