Was crucified, dead, and was buried
In the early Church there was a group of Christians called "Gnostic Christians" who disavowed the humanity of Christ. Gnostics believed that during the crucifixion, Jesus shed his earthly disguise and only appeared to die but really just transcended to another plane of existence. This is a problem. A huge one, and it's why Gnosticism is considered a heresy of the Church. This line in the creed draws attention to the reason this is so important.
First of all, we must always note that Jesus did not die of a heart attack. He wasn't sick. His "time" had not come. He was convicted and executed like a common criminal. In fact he was executed alongside common criminals. He was stripped of his clothes and his dignity and left to die a slow, public death at the city's crossroads.
The Study Catechism (Confirmation Catechism) of the PCUSA writes, "From Christ's lonely and terrible death we learn that there is no sorrow he has not known, no grief he has not borne, and no price he was unwilling to pay in order to reconcile us to God."
The people Christ came to rescue murdered him.
Secondly, he died. He really truly died. His body failed, he took a last breath, and his organs ceased to function. While the circumstances may be different, we all die in a similar fashion. WE... Humanity.... People of God. Jesus was one of us even at the end.
And they buried him. Now this may seem a weird thing to add, but the creed wants you to know that his body was not spirited away, was not hidden in someone's home; prophets and apostles were not called to perform miracles. His body was laid to rest at the (presumable) end of his story.
Our God knew fear on the cross. Our God knew pain. Our God worried about his friends and relatives he would leave behind. For anyone who worries about their last days on Earth, we have a friend and confidante in Christ Jesus. He understands, not through omniscience, but from experience. He's walked this road before and promises to accompany us on our journey no matter how soon or far away our time is. He is there in peaceful and timely deaths and in violence and injustice. For the old and young alike, our Christ holds us close.
I find this comforting because it's hard to think on Lent without knowing what is approaching as we get closer to Holy Week. So do not let your own fears weigh you down on your Lenten journey, because Jesus knows them all.
God of Grace who hears our first cries and our last breaths, hold us close to your heart. Steady our walk. Guide this race we run so that at the end we may rest with you. In the name of our savior we pray. Amen.
Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church