The Apostle’s Creed, drawing from 1 Peter 3 and 4, teaches us that Jesus descended into hell to preach to the dead, liberating them from their captivity. It should not be lost on us here the simple yet profound fact that Jesus has been to hell.
Today, on Holy Saturday, it’s good to meditate on this great truth. Jesus descended into hell.
I have heard a pastor friend of mine say often,
You need to allow Jesus to take you by the hand and lead you back to the dark, hellish places of your life, sit with you there, heal you there, and walk you out of there.
My friend Mark, in saying that during his weekly recovery sermons, is providing you and I with practical ways we can meditate on the great truth that Jesus descended into hell.
Far too often I want to gloss over the hellish pieces of my story. I want to live in the land of Easter where we talk only of victory and possibility and new birth. These are good things, to be sure, but none of them precede Jesus descending into hell. The journey to those dark places in my life is an absolute must. It’s imperative that we, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, walk back to those areas in our lives with Jesus by our side so that he can preach the gospel to us there. We need to hear his words of life wash over us in the hells of our past. My friend Mark says something else here that is useful:
If we don’t allow Jesus to attend to our past, our past will attend to us.
The fact that Jesus has seen hell gives me comfort that he won’t be surprised by anything in my past (or future). Nothing is going to shock him. Nothing will cause him to shy away or change how he thinks and feels about me. I can trust him to do with me in my hell what he did with them in theirs some 2000 years ago: Preach the good news, release the captives, set people free and rise again on the other side victorious and new.
Allow Jesus to descend into your hell. Only he has the power to walk you out of there as a new person.
Blessed Holy Saturday to you and yours.