Summary: This is part 2 of my Easter series. This message focuses on what Jesus did between His death and resurrection.
Easter: Jesus Visit Hell
This is part two of my Easter series. In part one last week I focused on Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. My goal in that message was to bring some clarity to the man who was responsible for betraying his Master after walking with Him in ministry for three years. While we will never know the reason Judas chose to betray Christ, we can understand that there is a little bit of Judas in all of us and we too can betray Christ in how we live today. Through his betrayal of Jesus we have been given access to God and we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Everything that we have discussed during the past two weeks in bible study and in my message last week hinges on our understanding that we are not alone in this world because of the work the Holy Spirit is doing within us. He is the reason why we can make different decisions from some of the ones we are making. He is the reason we can be empowered to do things that we never saw ourselves doing. All of this came through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Jesus was arrested on Thursday and crucified on Friday. When Jesus took His last breath on the cross, He died and went to hell. This morning we will examine and clear up some of the confusion pertaining to what Jesus did between his death and resurrection. I want to first lay the foundation for the existence of hell and Paradise as some Christians are teaching today that hell is not a place where the unsaved will go, but what we experience here on earth. While I agree that some situations may be extremely bad, there is nothing that we can face here on earth that comes close to spending an eternity in hell. I just want to be extremely clear on this point.
I. Hell and Paradise
Depending on what you read, there are different interpretations of hell and hades as some think that they are separate places (that hades is one section of hell.) When you look up the word ‘hades” in the Hebrew or Greek, it refers you to the specific definition of hell. Some believe that hell originally consisted of two sections: hades, where those who died and would be placed into the lake of fire were held; and Paradise, where those who had died in faith prior to Christ’s death and resurrection who believed that a redeemer was coming. While there may be some disagreement as to whether or not hades is a subdivision of hell, what I can tell you for a certainty are that hell/hades exists and that the Old Testament place of Paradise “existed” and was no longer needed after Christ’s death. I will explain why I believe this shortly. Let’s begin our examination of some Scriptures pertaining to hell and Paradise which will aid in our understanding of Jesus’ actions when He went to hell. Let’s begin with the existence of hell. Turn to Psalm 9:17.
Psalm 9:17 records: “The wicked will return to Sheol (hell), even all the nations who forget God.” This verse points out the writer’s understanding that hell was a place where all the wicked (those who did not accept/follow God) would go until the judgment. On Judgment Day these souls would be cast into the lake of fire.
Psalm 16:8-10 records: “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” These three verses are also cited by Peter in Acts 2:25-28 and Paul cites verse ten in Acts 13:35 as referring to the resurrection of Christ. What is important here is not only did David see himself coming out of hell, but he foretold of Christ’s resurrection and the fact that Christ’s body would not decay in the grave. Jesus also spoke of hell on several occasions. Turn with me Matthew 5:27-29.
Matthew 5:27-29 records: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” I know some wonder if Jesus really meant this literally and I will not get into that this morning. All I will say is that we examine sin from the viewpoint of the act committed while Jesus spoke to what was within the heart whether you acted on it or not. You can figure out the rest and please thank God for His grace when we truly repent. My point with these verses is that Jesus confirms that there is in fact a hell for the wicked and those who refuse to accept Him. Once a person dies and goes to hell, there are no second chances. Hebrews 9:27 says “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Please keep this in mind because it will help clear up some of the confusion around what Jesus did when He went to hell. Let’s quickly examine Paradise.