In my post yesterday (Good Friday, a time to Pause), we explored briefly the suffering and abuse of Jesus, leading up to his death on the cross around 3 pm, when he cried out “It is Finished!”. After the Romans confirmed that Jesus was dead, his body was handed off to Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph was a follower of Jesus, and already had a nearby tomb where they could place Jesus’ body.
Due to the approaching “sundown” Sabbath restrictions on work, they hastily prepared Jesus body for temporary storage, and placed him in the tomb, sealing it with a large rock. Additionally, we read that the Roman military placed guards on the tomb, to protect it from “radicals”.
And yet, even though Jesus’ body was dead, he was not!
Like each of us, Jesus had been a “living soul”. We know that a soul is the combination of a body and a spirit. Once Jesus’ body died, his spirit was freed again, and the Jesus we know continued his love-based ministry during that time his body was in the tomb.
In the Bible’s book of 1 Peter (NIV), we have this scripture:
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
Here we understand the importance of ALL people having the opportunity to hear the healing and saving message of Jesus. But what about all of those people who died before Jesus came?
That’s the “problem” Jesus was solving during his period in the tomb! He went to hell, the prison house, that temporary place of learning for the unrighteous, who “didn’t know any better”, or missed out on the message, or were misled. He went there to share the “good news” of forgiveness and new life that He was offering. Those spirits, from centuries in the past, also needed to hear His good news, and decide for themselves, how they will respond: to believe, or not to believe in Jesus as the Savior!
So no, Jesus did not go to hell “as punishment for our sins”. As always, Jesus went to hell, to bring ministry… to unlock the future for those people (spirits) who were there from the pre-Jesus time period. He went there out of His unconditional love for ALL PEOPLE, living and dead. He went there to offer His “new life” for those who would believe and follow.
For Jesus, the physical “suffering and abuse” was over. For those spirits of people who had lived and died, and were waiting in hell, their physical “suffering and abuse” was also over. But they needed the freeing message of Jesus, so that they could make their next “life decisions” to follow Jesus (or not).
For us, who presently live here in our mortal (temporary) bodies, we have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, and make OUR choice now. That choice, in THIS life, is immensely better. Not only does God want to share “only the best blessings” for you & your family, which can be unlocked when you choose to follow his Son Jesus… but in that following, God can work in, around, and through our lives, to bring His blessing into other people’s lives!
Jesus suffered death, pain, betrayal, disappointments. We do too. But Jesus continued life and ministry shows us that we too can be blessed, both in this life, and in the life we continue when our body dies.
Choose to learn about Jesus! Choose to question! Choose to test God’s promises, and allow Him to prove Himself as “trustworthy” in your life. Allow God to help heal you, encourage you, and give you a future of hope, Your tomorrow does NOT need to be a repeat of yesterday! But your choices, in this life, about your relationship to Jesus, make the difference!
Don’t try to be a “Christian” by yourself. It’s not possible. You need a loving, encouraging church family, wrapped around you to help you develop into the person God created you to be!
We invite you to find and journey with a local Community of Christ congregation. We follow the Living Jesus Christ, who is actively engaged in our individual and church-wide life. Come, see, and experience the living Christ among us, and be blessed by God’s Spirit, helping you change your life!