Summary: One of the least studied times of Jesus' life is the period between His death and His resurrection. So, the natural question is, "Where did He go?" Let's see if we can find out.
If you would, please stand as we say together our memory Scripture for this quarter:
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
And our memory refresher Scripture is …
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.”
Please open your Bibles to Acts 1:1-11 which we will read in a few minutes.
Ten days ago, on the Thursday before this past Thursday, there was a special date on the church calendar. That date appears exactly 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead. What does that date commemorate? Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.
With that in mind let’s go ahead and read Acts 1:1-11
The ascension of Jesus into heaven is truly important for many reasons but the most important reasons are:
1) Jesus became the one and only Mediator between us and God the Father:
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people - this has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”
2) God the Father would not send the Holy Spirit until after Jesus returned to Heaven.
Why? Why couldn’t we have the presence of the Holy Spirit to indwell us while Jesus was on earth?
We don’t know and we really don’t need to know, we just need to trust.
What we do know is that the Holy Spirit has a supremely important work to do in our lives to bring us to salvation and to keep us growing more and more into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today I want to ask a question that is not directly linked to the ascension of Jesus into Heaven but is concerned with the period between Jesus’ death and His resurrection and that question is, “Where did Jesus go?”
And in order to answer that question we need to look at some places of spiritual existence that we may not have thought much about before.
We think a lot about the Eternal existence of God the Son. We think a lot about the Incarnation. We think a lot about the crucifixion and the resurrection and the ascension and the return of Jesus but there is one period of Jesus existence we don’t talk about.
The three days Jesus was in the tomb.
When we think of places of spiritual existence we often only think of Heaven, the abode of God, and hell, a place of eternal torment and punishment apart from the presence of the Lord.
But what happened to Jesus during those three days; where did He go?
And, what will happen to my spirit between the time I die and the time of the resurrections?
Some people believe in “soul sleep” where the soul of a person is essentially turned off to an unconscious state between the time of death and the time of the resurrections of the dead.
This, of course, is not Biblical.
On the surface you might think that it would be because when you read through the histories of the kings of Israel and Judah at the end of their life it would be recorded as, “and king so-and-so slept with his fathers and was buried at such-and-such-a-place.”
And even in the New Testament there are references to “those who have fallen asleep.”
Naturally, we know that these are figures of speech and not meant to be taken literally.
How do we know that? Well, from the Bible, of course!
When Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration in He was speaking with Moses and Elijah. Were they in soul sleep and Jesus just woke them up for a brief chat?
We also have the thief on the cross and the account of the rich man and Lazarus but we’ll talk about them more in depth later.
So, where did and where do the souls of the departed go???
Well, before the ascension of Jesus into heaven it looked like this …
Here I show a slide entitled “The souls of the departed from Creation to the Ascension of Jesus.”
Then it looked like this:
|- Paradise – Souls of the Faithful Departed
|- Hades – Souls of the Wicked Departed
This is what the Jews believed and it is what Jesus taught.
We see this clearly defined by Jesus Himself in the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.
Who would be in Paradise? Able (it must have been lonely for a while)