Growing up I felt so bad for Jesus whenever we said this. “How awful! How terrible! To be put under the awful influence of the devil and his demons in the fiery place of hell. How humiliating that he would have to suffer that for us.”
Undoubtedly, I understood the devil’s power. He, at such a young age, had already overpowered me and caused me to fight with my sister, disobey my mother, and ignore my Sunday School teachers.
Perhaps you are just as aware of his power.
But my six year old interpretation was a bit off.
For on the cross Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Meaning there was no suffering left to do.
And in Colossians 2:15 “He made a public spectacle of the (evil) powers and authorities by triumphing over them on the cross.”Meaning his victory over the devil came at the cross.
So why to hell?
1 Peter 3:18-19, “Jesus was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison.”
Preached to the spirits in prison? Like tell the Gospel to the demons and unbelievers in hell? That doesn’t make sense. The Bible clearly teaches that there is no “second chance” to believe.
So what was Jesus doing in hell? What was he preaching?
“He made a public spectacle of them.” “Triumphing over them.” “It is finished.”
This is Jesus’ divine victory parade. He goes to hell to tell the devil, “I told you so!” To make it very clear that the LORD of majesty reigns supreme and the lord of the flies will be the one suffering in hell. Good won. Evil failed.
Sound a little like taunting?
He’s taunting the devil. The very one whom we have no power over on our own. The very one who has defeated us in the past. The very one who wants nothing more than our own demise in hell.
I’m ok with Jesus mocking him.
Because with Jesus victory parade comes His victory. And with His victory comes our victory. And with our victory comes Jesus and His power to win battle after battle against temptation in our day to day lives.
It also means that through faith in Jesus, we will never have any idea what hell looks like.
I'm fine with that.
"I believe in Jesus Christ...descended into hell." What a beautiful article declaring Jesus' victory over the ancient tempter.
So do you know what I do when I hear that in church now?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me for all of the times that I have lost to the devil and given into his temptations. Forgive me for the sake of your Son, who defeated him on the cross and proclaimed his victory to the devil in hell. Lord, let me taste this victory through faith in your Son, my victorious Savior. When I am tempted, help me to turn to Jesus, the one who has already displayed his supreme dominance over the tempter. Keep me safe from his jaws with your strong arms. Amen.