Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday

On this Holy Saturday, we remember that Jesus, crucified on Good Friday, was dead for three days. We know His body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. But what of His spirit?

The Apostle’s Creed says, “I believe … He descended into hell.” Today we think of “hell” as the place of the damned, but the word “hell,” as used here, refers only to the place of the dead.

To the thief crucified next to Him, and who believed on Him, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Then, before He died, He cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).

By the former, He may have only been referring to the blessed place of the dead, known as Paradise, or Abraham’s Bosom. By the latter, He may have only meant that He committed His human spirit to the Father to do as the Father desired. There was a separation of His spirit and His body, but when He was made alive again the third day, spirit and body fully united.
Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. (Ephesians 4:8-10)

But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:6-9)
The important thing to know is that, wherever Jesus was on this day, He did not remain there.

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