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He Descended into Hell

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For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“he descended into hell”
- from The Apostles’ Creed

What was Jesus doing between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Christians have wrestled with this and wondered about this for ages. Eventually, this line from the Creed became the answer that they gave.

We affirm that Jesus descended into hell for three reasons: commitment, victory and generous opportunity.

Jesus committed fully to the work of redemption. He would suffer for us, in our place. The punishment we deserved was to be fully placed on him (Is 53:5). He didn’t flinch. He didn’t slip through a loophole. He suffered the full consequences of evil. And this includes hell. He descended into hell so we will never have to and rose again to new life (Acts 2:27, 31).

And this descent into hell also demonstrates Jesus’ victory over the powers of evil and satan in the world. They could take him to hell, but couldn’t keep him there. He disarmed them and made a public spectacle of them (Col 2:15). He truly is Lord.

And our Lord extended a generous opportunity for redemption to all who lived before him. Living at the wrong time in history would condemn no one to hell. He spoke with those who lived before him (1 Pet 3:19) and none on the last day will question his justice (Rev 7:10-12).

Holding these three together – commitment, victory and generous opportunity – allows us to really appreciate what Jesus has done for us. Pick one of these three and meditate on it today. What does God want you to learn about Jesus today?

2 Comments

Thank you for this, I have always been curious about this aspect of Jesus' sacrifice.

When I thought my victory sure—who could have foreseen,
That God, yes God Incarnate! Would Himself redeem
His lost and broken people and this world He truly loved
At the terrifying price of His son's most precious blood?

My domain invaded! The gates of hell came crashing down!
The Lord, the Word of God, stood with the ex-damned all around.
He led them out into the light; their years of darkness through,
And then the Son of God said: “And you, would you come too?”

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