“He had also descended into the lower regions, the earth.” – Ephesians 4:9
Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1-13
The day between Good Friday and Easter has, in the church’s history, been dubbed Holy Saturday. What precisely did Jesus do between His death and resurrection? Several theories, entertained throughout church history, must be dismissed as unbiblical: Jesus did not enter hell to continue His suffering, nor did He access a holding cell for imprisoned Old Testament believers to open for them the gates of Paradise, nor did He visit the underworld to preach a victory sermon to the devil and his hosts.
We must see that on Holy Saturday, Jesus experienced the precise sequence of death believers also experience: He dies, His body is buried and His soul enters heaven. He enters the “lower regions,” the realm of the righteous dead. To their great delight, He was present in Paradise that day with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all Old Testament believers. In fulfillment of the promise He made on the cross, Jesus was also with the believing criminal who was crucified beside Him. Our enjoyment of Christ upon death, of course, transcends this because we will enjoy the presence of the risen Christ, not simply the crucified Christ.
On Holy Saturday, we celebrate that Christ has the keys to death and Hades. “If you see children playing with a lion,” the church father Athanasius wrote, “don’t you know that the lion must be either dead or completely powerless?” Similarly, death has been rendered completely powerless for all Christian believers. We need not fear death!
Suggestions for prayer
Thank the Lord for rendering death powerless for all believers and for His gracious presence with all believing friends and family who have died.
Dr. Bill DeJong is the lead pastor of Blessings Christian church in Hamilton, ON and adjunct professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer University in Ancaster, ON. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.