Psalm 30; Luke 11:29–32; 1 Corinthians 15:50–58; 1 Peter 3:18–22 (read online ⧉)
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
From the Apostle’s Creed
Easter has happened. Cries of, “He is Risen!” and “He is Risen, Indeed!” abounded. Yet, there is a mystery between death and resurrection. Holy Saturday was a day of uneasiness, grief, morning, and shock, but what about Jesus? Jesus was very busy, apparently.
Unlike those who had died and came back to life (such as, Lazarus), who knows what their time was after their death and before Jesus or the prophets brought them back to life. That is, curiously, not discussed in the Scriptures. Curiously, because such a death-defying moment must have had something share. There are thoughts, of course, that their mouths were sealed from talking about, or the experience was so profound it was impossible to explain (though that one would still mean stories). It could even be that they experienced no passage of time at all, so the whole question was moot.
Jesus, on the other hand, was certainly not quiet in that time. Peter describes him as (basically) bringing the Gospel to the dead and setting them free from the bondage of (sin and) death. No rest for Jesus!
One of the biggest arguments against Jesus and the Resurrection and the love of God is the whole concept that people were condemned to eternal separation from God before Jesus became incarnate, lived, died, buried, and resurrected. However, Peter tells us that this isn’t the case at all! The first thing Jesus did…go save some people. Jesus went to the dead people first.
Jesus said, “Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?, He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31–32)
Our concept of death is not God’s. Death overhangs our lives. The entirety of the COVID crisis is the fear of death of our bodies, and also all the little deaths (e.g., physical distancing) that appear to be going along with it. Death is not something that we can overcome. Only God can do that. What happens to us when we die is one thing, what Jesus did when he died is another thing completely. However, when God chooses to die for us, to liberate us from sin and death, where might the sting of death truly be?
Gracious God, give us wisdom and guidance as we try to understand the mysteries of who you are. Allow us, Lord, to hear of your love and mercy in your Word and apply these first to our minds as we seek to read and understand. Amen.
1) Paul’s death-defying words are inspiring, however, we have all felt the sting of death. Does Paul lie, do we misunderstand, or is there something else going on?
2) Do you think that Jesus’ words (Matthew 22:31–32) mean that people don’t really die, or what else might it mean?
3) What does it mean to you that Jesus first went to the dead, rather than his disciples and friends?