There are four lines in the Apostles Creed, that we know so well, yet when I really look at them, I see a thousand books being written, and still there is more to be said.
Those lines are:-
– suffered under Pontius Pilate,
– was crucified, died, and was buried;
– He descended into hell.
– On the third day he rose again;
Twenty one words in English, two less in the original Greek, yet the significance, beyond measure.
They are four distinct concepts each worthy of our attention. His suffering, His crucifixion, death and burial, His visit to Hell and the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second and the forth we know well. The first, some are aware of its role in our Salvation, but what is with the third point? Jesus descended into Hell!
Did Jesus really go to Hell?
Suffice it to say yes. In fact the Bible is very clear on that matter. The problem here is that we so seldom speak on this or study it, that we are really illiterate on the matter. To use a few short minutes to address this during a message on Communion Sunday is just not going to work.
The Sermon will be disjointed, the little we can look at will be confusing, and it would become a distraction for the whole morning. No this needs its own time and its own space. If fact it needs so much space, that a morning service will not do.
Sunday two weeks from now in the afternoon at 5:00pm, It will be in place of our regular Bible Study and I will do a presentation on the subject. I would encourage everyone to make an effort to come. We will discover there is more than one place we call hell. We will discuss what Paradise is, and I promise you that it will be something quite different to what most people think. We will learn why Jesus needed to go to ‘Hell’, and what He did there. So please Sunday May 15th 5:00pm and invite people you care about.
Normally when I preach, and in fact when most preachers preach, they tell stories to explain Spiritual principles. This has two purposes, first it helps people remember the message, and it helps them put doctrine into life. Today I am not going to use cute or inspirational stories in an attempt to capture your mind. No today we are going to walk through the last hours of Jesus before his death. Remember that Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was raised again on the third day. We are going to skip the middle days we will save that for two weeks time.
Lets begin with the suffering.
What happened that very first Easter caught everyone by surprise, everyone that is, but Jesus. He alone saw what was coming, from quite aways off. And even though He warned His friends, they neither understood what He was saying nor did they buy into it for one minute. Even before the transfiguration, Jesus was explaining these things to His disciples.
An example of this is found in Luke 9:22 , “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”
In the Transfiguration, Jesus is discussing this with Moses and Elijah.
Clearly Jesus knew what was ahead, and he never turned from it not even for a minute. Jesus had seen the brutality and cruelty of men a thousand times over, each footstep towards Jerusalem must have been heavy and difficult, yet He continued to climb that rocky old road, knowing full well what was in store for Him.
Imagine sitting down to the feasting table, your friends oblivious to what the next twenty four hours would hold. They were laughing and in good spirits, and with each course of that meal, destiny was screaming in with absolutely not the slightest bit of mercy.
Across the table sit your Judas, his name in fact was Judas. It is time for his betrayal and Jesus looks Judas in the eyes, offers him a morsel of food, dipped in wine, and warns him the cost of his betrayal. Judas looks back, and excuses his actions, what he says we translate as “Surely it is not I!” as if to protest his innocence. But there is something more in the exchange. The actual words in English make little sense, “Perhaps, I I am Rabbi.” The use of the ‘I I am’ is a reference back to Exodus 3 where God is referred to as the Great ‘I Am. When God says to Moses, “Tell them that I I Am has sent you.”It is rhetoric, Its like Judas is saying, “I am not you, I am not God, so don’t blame me.” or possibly Judas is saying, “Maybe, I am a god, just like you!” To which Jesus simply says, “You have spoken.” As Judas walks out the door, on his mission of betrayal, I am sure, Jesus’ heart followed.
Next we come to the Garden, and the impending sense of doom is clouding in on Jesus, He spends the next hour pouring His heart out in prayer. Pleading, ‘that there may be another way, knowing each time He prays, the answer.
Judas returns and betrays Jesus with a kiss.
The next six hours sees Jesus being dragged through no less than 6 trials.
First before Annas, the Father in Law of the High Priest, and what we would call the Godfather of Jerusalem. Yes there was corruption in the Religious system, and this man’s word was law.
Then it is to Ciaphas House, he was Annas’ son in law, and High Priest. From there to the Sanhedrin.
During this time he has endured the rage, ridicule and torment of the one of the most evil crime families in history and their corrupt religious council. Jesus has been yelled at, denied justice and lawful process, literally hundreds of raging evil men took turns spitting in His face, slapping and punching him. He was blindfolded, struck time and time over with a reed the size of a teachers cane and laughed at.
Then to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, more mocking and beatings, then back to Pilate.
Pilate soldier beat him again, and thrust a crown of thorns into His scalp. He is then flogged with a barbaric scourge, of braided leather thongs each tied of with a jagged shard, be it glass, bone or metal.
For nine solid hours, hundreds of violent raging men did their best to reduce Jesus to nothing.
An then they forced Him to carry His Cross to the place of His Crucifixion.
Fifteen hour of excruciating pain, humility, betrayal and abandonment. Even abandoned by God.
He who had done no wrong. He who loved, blessed, healed and fed, as many as come His way. That one, Jesus of Nazareth, hung alone on a cruel Cross, all by Himself, bearing the sins of the entire World.
He died, His soul descended into Hell, and there He remained, His body in the Grave, His Soul in Hades, for the next three days.
Death could not hold Him down, He burst open the Gates of Hell, and He rose from the dead, conquering and victorious.
54… Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:54b-57