It’s one of the strangest parts of the creed.
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.
I've never spent time inside of a grave. I imagine it's dark. Cold. Damp. Perhaps there are a few creepy crawlers that call it their home.
This is not place for a living human being. It's only for the dead.
That's why Jesus was there. He was dead. His lifeless body now called this dungeon of death, its home.
But he wasn't the only one there.
You were too.
Romans 6:3-4 says it this way, "Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death."
Baptism is powerful. It's a washing with water into Jesus. Jesus who died. Jesus who was in the tomb for the dead. Jesus who took our sins to the grave.
And left them there.
Think about it:
Your sinful selfishness? Dead on the floor in the tomb.
Your vicious jealousy? Over in the dark stale corner.
Your outright rebellion against God? Powerlessly lying on the floor. Without any air to breathe.
But Jesus? He's alive. And in Baptism you're alive too! Powerfully, miraculously, supernaturally alive.
All because of Jesus who cannot be held back even when dead in a tomb!
So why act dead when you're alive?
Read the rest of Romans: "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
Live that new life. Leave your sin in the grave. Follow your living Savior out of that tomb!
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you so much for taking my disgusting sinful nature to the tomb. Thank you for burying it there and leaving it behind. What a glorious truth that means I now live a new life. Through baptism into your name, sin has no power over me! Praise and thanks be to you. Help me to live with power over sin this week and always. Amen.
"None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:8)
They didn't get it.
The man whose life they had taken was no ordinary man.
He was the one who had given life in the first place. To Adam. To Eve. To dogs, anteaters, grizzly bears, and centipedes. To them.
To you and to me.
He is the one who preserved these lives. Keeping the heat of the sun at just the right distance to warm and not burn. Providing rain for the crops for his creation to make cole slaw, Pop Tarts, and apple pies. Moving winds and storms past apartment complexes, three story houses, and trailer parks that his creation might continue to live.
Now? He was dead. Killed by the very humans he loved: by his creation. By his people.
by you and me.
1 Corinthians 15:3 says it this way, "Christ died for our sins." For the sake of. Because of.
On the one hand, this is the greatest injustice of all time. The Creator killed by his created.
On the other hand, this is most loving act of all time. The Creator permitting himself to to lose His life, for his creation.
Apart from this moment on Calvary, our sins would cause us to lose our lives.
But through faith in the Creator, our Creator, who gave up his life for us, we will live.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, when I look at the cross I am faced with the horrors of my sins. My sins caused you to die! Forgive me Lord. Forgive me for the sake of that death, which you permitted. A death you died, only to rise again. Resonate that truth within me today, dear Lord, that I may live my life in you and for you. Amen.
God was not created. He always was. Eternal.
And yet, he was born.
On a quiet night. In a lonely barn. Amidst the smell of the animals...God was born.
He also grew. Took his first steps. Said his first words. Learned to tie his sandals. Maybe Mary had a post in her Nazarene home where she kept track of Jesus' monthly height!
A normal childhood.
Except there weren't any temper tantrums. He never told a fib. He never took a Hamantash cookie when he wasn't supposed to.
Even as a teen, he never said, "Mom, I hate you!" He never snuck out at night to graffiti the local synagogue. He never missed an opportunity to show his parents how much he loved them.
He was perfect. In every way.
Thank God for Jesus' perfect. Because when Jesus died on the cross, He exchanged this perfect life of His for your imperfect one.
It's why he died.
It's why through faith in him you'll live.
PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, I have been sinning against you since I was very young. I was spoiled, rotten, and awful to my parents. Forgive me O Lord. Forgive me for the sake of my perfect brother, Jesus. He died for me and took my punishment. Through faith in Him, I know I will live to be in your house in heaven. Help me today to live as he did in thankfulness to you. Amen.
And this was before death row was 'humane.'
It wasn't a high dose of poison quickly inserted into the blood, but a long, drawn out, tortuous death.
Nails through the hands.
Thorns through the skull.
Lungs that slowly collapsed lacing each breath with the burn of a severe asthma attack.
It's so terrible that you'd think it would be reserved only for the worst of criminals. You'd certainly want to make certain that anyone who suffered such a death deserved it.
He was innocent on all counts. No crimes against the state. No crimes against the church. No crimes against God.
Would you believe that's because he was suffering what we deserved?
"He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Meaning we aren't on eternal death row, but we await the glorious of heavenly living.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Thank you so much for going through the painful death I deserved. Thank you for taking my place. Thank you for being my perfect substitute. Lord, please help me to appreciate that today as I ponder what you have done for me. In Jesus, Amen.