Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day #15


Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 15 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism and I will be talking to you today about questions 37, 38 & 39.


When you think about all the things that Jesus did on earth what comes to mind? First of all, He lived. He was conceived in miraculous fashion by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. But when He was born, he was born like any other human child. He lived in the home of His mother and earthly father, Joseph. He grew up alongside the other kids in his village.

He went to synagogue like everyone else. He was taught like everyone else. As He grew older, He stepped out of the background and into the foreground for all to see. He began to teach amazing truths that no one had ever heard before. He began to do amazing things that no one had ever seen before.

John wrote that if all the stories of Jesus’ miracles were written down, there wouldn’t be enough paper to record them all. He lived a remarkably full life, but one third of all that is written about Him in the gospels records only the final week leading up to His death, burial and resurrection. In the gospel of Luke alone, 33 years of Jesus life was covered in the first 18 chapters. The last 6 chapters covered one week.

What does this tell us? It tells us that one of the most important things that we need to know about Jesus is what we learn through His death and that is the focus on this week’s questions in the Catechism.

Lord’s Day Focus...

Question 37: What do you understand by this word suffered?

Answer: That during His whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race. This He did in order that, by His suffering as the only atoning sacrifice, He might set us free, body and soul, from eternal condemnation, and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.  

The answer to question 37 begins by pointing out that all of Jesus’ life was suffering. One of the main authors of the Heidelberg wrote a commentary that included seven ways that Christ suffered.

1. He gave up the joys of Heaven

2. He experienced the infirmities of our nature (hunger, thirst, sadness, grief)

3. He knew deprivation and poverty (having nowhere to lay His head)

4. He endured insults, treacheries, slanders, blasphemies, rejection, and contempt

5. He faced temptations from the Devil.

6. He died a shameful and painful death

7. He experienced the bitter anguish of soul as one accursed of God and forsaken by His heavenly Father.[1]

Jesus suffering didn’t just occur on the cross, it was spread throughout His life but it was punctuated at the end when he died in the place of sinners to atone for our sin. In the OT prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus is referred to as the suffering servant. He poured out His soul to death in order to make an offering to God for the guilt of all those who believe.

He received in His flesh the stripes that we deserved. He was oppressed and afflicted in our place. Then in addition to the physical suffering, Jesus endured the anger of God that we deserved. No one died like He died. No one suffered like He suffered.

Oh, there were thousands who were killed on Roman crosses, but Jesus received the wrath from God that we deserved and to that point He had only ever experienced the love and delight of God. To be honest, we can’t fully understand the depth of His suffering but like the Catechism says, He endured it in order to atone for our sins.

Question 38: Why did He suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

Answer: So that He, though innocent, might be condemned by a civil judge, and so free us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.

In Luke’s gospel it is recorded that Jesus was brought to Pontius Pilate to stand trial, but as Pilate questioned Jesus, he found Him innocent. In the human law court of His day Jesus was found guilty of no crime but still He was condemned to die. All of this was part of God’s plan for Jesus that would result in our freedom from sin.

The Jewish legal system is believed by many to have been the most carefully outlined system of law in the entire ancient world. The foundation for this system of law was God Himself. He gave laws to His people because He wanted them to be a just nation and to display that justice to the world. God commanded Israel to be a city on a hill, He wanted them to be a people who carried out justice, who loved kindness and who walked humbly with their God (Micah 6:8).

But the precision of Jewish law did not keep them from abusing that law in order to carry out their wicked plans. Historians have made clear that Jesus’ trial was a gross miscarriage of Justice, but we don’t need historians to help us see this. In His life, Jesus did nothing but good to His fellow man, but at the end of His life He is treated like the worst kind of criminal.

Jesus healed the sick, He restored the lame, He fed the poor, He showed grace to sinners, He set free those under demonic oppression, He comforted those who grieved and on more than one occasion He did this by raising their loved ones from the dead. In His life, Jesus went about doing good and the leaders of Israel repay Him with cruelty and pain.

As His trial got underway, He was held in custody though no crime has been committed. He was punished, literally beaten and mocked, though no guilt was proven. Punishment was carried out before any verdict was handed down.

But all of this took place to show us something, that Jesus the truly innocent sufferer was taking our place.

1 Peter 2:21 Christ suffered for you…22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.


Question 39: Is it significant that He was crucified instead of dying some other way?

Answer: Yes. This death convinces me that He shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.

The answer here is really a reference to what the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:13.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”[2]

Again, the point is to show us how Jesus took our place. His suffering was for the benefit of those who believe. He suffered so that we could go free. He was treated unjustly so that we could receive pardon. He became a curse for us so that we wouldn’t have to bear the curse ourselves. All of this gives us confidence that Jesus’ death wasn’t the result of His sin but the result of ours and if He died for our sin, the payment has been made and we are free because of Christ.

God’s wrath is very real and it is very just and our only hope of being freed from it is on account of what Christ has done on the cross.

When Jesus Christ did His work on the cross it served to accomplish two things: (1) to remove our guilt because His blood and death paid our ransom, and (2) to satisfy God’s wrath and restore us in relationship to God. Because of our faith in Christ we do not stand before the judge as an enemy but as a friend, a son or daughter whose pardon has already been paid in full.

And we can now sing again…

“My sin, oh the bliss, of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part, but the whole…was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, it is well with my soul.”

Thanks for joining me today as I discuss the Heidelberg Catechism. I hope you’ll join me again next week as we look at Lord’s Day 16 together and discuss questions 40 thru 44.


If you want to learn more about Cornerstone Baptist church, you can find us online at Cornerstonewylie.org. You can follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cbcwylie. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/cornerstonewylie. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or google play to stay up to date on all the new content.

Thanks for listening.

[1] The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus, translated by G.W. Williard, 231

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 3:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Justin Wheeler

Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX.