Did Jesus really go into hell?
Suggested Daily Reading: Psalm 18:5 and Psalm 116:3, and then Matthew 26:38-42 and 27:46
The punishments experienced by those in hell are to:
- Suffer with the enemies of God: Satan, the devils and their human followers
- Be separated totally from God’s grace, favor and communion
- Bear the infinite wrath of God poured out against sin forever.
When you read about the intense sufferings of the Lord Jesus during his life on earth, but especially in the last days in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Golgotha, what did Jesus’ sufferings include? Did He not:
- Suffer under the all-out attacks of Satan, the full powers of hell, and the intense hatred of people who follow Satan and hate God?
- Experience separation from God’s grace, favor and communion, so that He cried out in anguish of soul, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
- Bear the infinite wrath of God’s wrath and justice poured out against sin? Was not the weight of this so great that Jesus sweat blood in Gethsemane?
God viewed Jesus as the Sinner, the Substitute, the One who owned all the sins of His elect people. He endured the hellish punishment that His children deserved. In these ways Jesus descended into hell and paid the full price of hell that all believers in Him deserve. Jesus did not enter into a physical place called hell.
Why then, when we read and confess the Apostles’ Creed, is Jesus’ descent into hell listed after His crucifixion, death and burial? The order in the creed is not one of historical sequence in Jesus’ life but it reflects the degrees of His humiliation, as well as the order in which God’s children are delivered from these consequences of sin.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed when thinking of Jesus suffering the full weight of God’s wrath and the punishment of hell for you? Is your heart touched when you see Jesus in Gethsemane and hear Him cry out on Golgotha? Are you moved when considering that He went through hell for you? Such feelings are stirred in the hearts of God’s children. True believers in Jesus Christ want to love Him in return with their whole heart, mind and body. Is this your deepest desire?