[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 of the Christian faith that says about Jesus:
He suffered under Pontius Pilate.
Was crucified, dead and buried.
He descended into hell.
The best way to understand the Apostles’ Creed is to remember— Jesus experienced all the dimensions of hell on the cross. During the three hours of darkness, He bore our sins. The wrath of God was poured out on Him. He was forsaken by the Father. He carried the weight of our accumulated guilt and shame. And He was in a conscious agony of body and soul. That is hell.
We gladly confess the Apostles’ Creed. Christ descended into hell, experienced all its horrors. He tasted every dimension of its pain. And He did that on the cross. He bore your sins, He took your punishment, He experienced your hell, so that you should never know what it is like.
Jesus’ descent into hell was not a disembodied visit for preaching between His death and resurrection. It was the heart of His suffering on the cross when He died, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
Try to put into the words of a prayer what this truth means to you: “Jesus experienced all the dimensions of hell on the cross.”