..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday: Jesus Preaching in Hell

Its Holy Saturday, and we are awaiting
Resurrection Day. I began to think about
Jesus and what He was doing on this day
so long ago as He awaited His complete

I started thinking about all the scripture
verses I knew and they suggest a number of
things, things too weighty to speak
quickly of here. I then thought of the
line from the Apostle's Creed, "He descended
into hell". I bet Peter would have asked Jesus,
"Where in the world were You and what were You
doing?" upon seeing Him after his resurrection.

Sure enough. Peter has an entry that sounds like
he found out, "For Christ also has once suffered
for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might
bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh
but quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went
and preached unto the spirits in prison which
sometimes were disobedient when once the
longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah,
while the ark was preparing, wherein a few, that
is eight souls, were saved by water (1 Peter 3:18,19).

A lot to understand! Please be aware that my
purpose today is more devotional and inspirational
then *theological so I am not trying to explain a
intricate doctrine in a short post. It appears,
however, that our amazing Lord was embarking on
a preaching mission into hell or at least to the
place where those people drowned during the great
flood of Noah's day were staying.

Dear Jesus, what were You doing after You were
put to death? The first impression I got was
"about My Father's business." I do not believe
that Jesus was just passively awaiting
resurrection. He was still about His Father's
business! He was still advocating for us in
Spirit! He was still seeking out those who needed
to hear His Word and be saved. One would think
that His sacrifice was enough, that now He could
just wait for God to raise Him....to rest after
His exhaustive sacrifice. Now it was God's turn
to work. And it was God's turn, but He was still
carrying on His Father's business: being obedient,
finishing all that was meant for Him to do,
preaching perhaps in Hell itself. Amazing.

Peter, in the verse previous to the one
I quoted above, tells us that it is better,
if the will of God be so, that we suffer for
well doing instead of evil doing (vs. 17).
We are called in the same path as our Master.
We will all weather the floods of death
attacking us, both spiritually and physically.
We will all be called to obey God unto death
in our own ways. So often we become weak and
discouraged after the first round of death
come to us: "I cannot go on", "I have suffered

Jesus shows us that even after the first death,
there is still more obedience to come. We do not
earn God's approval or salvation. We do not atone
for our sins, never mind the sins of mankind. But
we can follow the Lord down into the depths, even
the depths of what feels like hell, and be about
His business. We can continue to preach the message
of resurrection because it is true, no matter
what and no matter where we find ourselves.

We can preach it in good faith to the captives even
when we ourselves are still captive. Faith is like
that. Faith is built on bedrock trust in God's
goodness and His ability to save even when we are
miles from the finish line--in the bowels of death
itself. Faith is about Resurrection life inside of us,
God's Life getting us ready to live forever: buoying
us up when we are nearly dead, bringing us into a
deeper obedience long after we should have given up.

This has been a long and deadly winter. We all know it.
But just outside are the first reminders of resurrection
that God has planted in the earth. The sun feeling
warmer. The crocus's braving the snow to bloom in
purple and gold. The first robin's arrival. And we,
in the bowels of our trials, but with hearts steadfast
on a long obedience, await our resurrection.

We are still, in many ways, in the depths of the
earth, knowing death, but not completely knowing
resurrection. Ah, but we feel its power arising
in our hearts
. May our faith be strong
and steadfast. May our hope be in God, and in
Jesus, whom God has raised from the dead so that
someday soon we might rise with Him. And may we
be about our Father's business, no matter what
the time and season, in season and out of seaon,
come hell or high

He is risen, and He has not forsaken us.

*for a quick overview of this subject check
out this blog entry

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