[Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah. 1 Peter 3:19-20 (NIV) Those who believe that Jesus preached in hell between His death and resurrection often quote the statement from the Apostles’ Creed, a great statement...
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV)
The clearest revelation of hell given to us is at the cross. Hell has six dimensions and Christ experienced all of them there:
1. Jesus was in conscious suffering. Hell is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28), and Jesus entered into all of its pain—scourging, nailing, mocking—when he suffered on the cross.
2. Jesus was in blackest darkness. “From the sixth hour [noon] until the ninth hour [3 pm], darkness came over all the land” (Matthew 27:45). Jesus was entering into the heart of his atoning work as our sin-bearer, drinking the cup of God’s wrath.
3. Jesus was surrounded by demonic powers. “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). Demonic powers added their venom to the human hatred.
4. Jesus was bearing sin. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” To be our sin-bearer, Christ received in himself the hell that our sins deserve.
5. Jesus was under judgment. Jesus endured hell, because hell is the punishment for sin. God’s wrath was poured out on him; he became the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25).
6. Jesus was separated from the knowledge of God’s love. The love that the Son had enjoyed with his Father for all eternity was now beyond his reach. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says, “those who do not obey the gospel… will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord.”
Hell is as real as the cross. Jesus endured all of hell’s dimensions on the cross so that you would never know what hell is like.
Take in the wonder of what Jesus did on the cross!