Did Jesus Rest on this Sabbath?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. 19 In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, 20 who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. 21 This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NAB)
“Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell: The third day he rose again from the dead:” (1)
A conversation yesterday, between Good Friday Services, brought up the issue of what Jesus was doing, in the time between His death on the cross, and the Resurrection.
The people I was in dialogue with said he simply rested in the grave. They were using this to “prove” that everyone should worship on the Sabbath, during the time between Sunset on Friday, and Sunset on Saturday.
It brought up memories of my childhood, sitting in the pews at St. Francis in Lawrence, or St. Joes in Salem, and wondering about the line in the Apostle’s Creed above.
Why did Jesus have to descend to Hell? Wasn’t the suffering and death on the cross enough?
It bothered me greatly, and those I asked about it, had no answer. Which bothered me a little more. Would the Father let Jesus go to Hell, to suffer there for our sins? Why did He have to go?
I am not sure when I came across the verses in Peter’s epistle above, but they seem to settle the issue. Jesus didn’t go to Hell to suffer, but to preach, to proclaim the love of God, that He would die for the sin of the world. All sin. That those who trust in Him as their God, would know His salvation. it is not quite a victory parade, though it is to declare victory. And the gates of Hell cannot prevent it, Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. He was sent, apostle’d to deliver to the Father, those who have, would, will become the children of God
The words about baptism are not remiss therefore, for it is in Baptism that we are united with the death of Christ, and with His Resurrection. Glorious events, worthy of praise, (yes the cross is glorious) for they show the depth of God’s love for us. Love that wouldn’t even let those imprisoned by sin not know of His love, of His grace. It is what takes those dead in sin, and makes them alive in Christ Jesus.
Which brings us back to the Sabbath, and the purpose of it.
It’s not about not working, for surely God is continually at work, sustaining the universe. And those of us, who preach, who lead worship, who do a myriad of things on Sunday (or Saturday – Romans tells us we have this Freedom) certainly are at work in the House of God. The Sabbath is about priority, teaching us to rest – not just from labor, but to rest in the presence of God. To be in awe of His love, to be aware of the depth of His love, that will even descend into hell to deliver the children of God to their home… with Him. That is why Paul says the sabbath is simply a foreshadowing of Christ, for it is in Him we truly find rest.
Even on a Saturday, while we prepare to celebrate the resurrection… Even here, the Lord of the Sabbath reigns, and because He does, we know we dwell in the Father’s peace, an indescribable peace, a peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(1) The Apostles Creed
Posted on April 19, 2014, in Devotions and tagged Apostles Creed, christ jesus, Easter, Good Friday, gospel, grace, He descended into Hell, Hell, Jesus, rest, sabbath, Sheol. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.