He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to hell.The third day he rose again from the dead.
A few years back we had a black cat named Clarence. Clarence was an indoor/outdoor cat on our farm and we let our cats be free to roam the entire farm; but we also liked them to be in the house at night. One-night Clarence didn’t come when we called. We called and called his name, no Clarence. We looked all around the farm, still no Clarence. Days passed, and we had begun to think that perhaps he was lost forever.
Five days after Clarence went missing; a utilities truck pulled into our driveway. The fellow inside jumps out and asks if it would be okay if he drove across our front lawn and into our field. I said, “Absolutely”, and then I asked him, “Is there a problem with a power line? “ No,” the man replied, “You see, we have gotten several calls to help a cat stuck on one of the electrical poles in your field and we have come to rescue it.” My heart leapt!! Could it be??? This was a miracle! Never in my wildest dreams could I
have imagined this rescue. Dead on the road, yup. Lost forever, you bet. But not this!! So out to the field we go. And low and behold, there was Clarence way up high on the cross beam of an electrical pole. Clarence the cat could not save himself, but love and a power greater than himself could. What a crazy and wonderful true story of love and divine rescue.
The story of the Christian faith is just as crazy and wonderful! God created the human race in His image and He had given mankind a beautiful garden in which to live and the freedom to roam anywhere we wished with one restriction.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’ Genesis 2:16.
when you eat of it you will surely die
you eat of it
He knew we would.
And we did.
you will surely die
Make no mistake. The mortality rate for human beings is 100%.
From the moment Eve took the first bite it was the beginning of the end. God called; we didn’t come. The eternal garden party was over. Sin and death were now our destiny, a destiny of our own choosing, a self-imposed hell. We fell for temptation by the rebel leader and the consequences were separation from the presence of God, exile from the garden, and death. Life on earth became a temporary assignment. Out of the garden we went.
Now at the very same instant that sin and death came into life, the search and rescue mission was also born. Immediately God sought us when we didn’t come when He called; for the very first time in the garden as we hid in the bushes ashamed of our treason. God was on a mission, a mission with a single purpose: to seek and save us from our own self destruction and from the enemy of man, Satan.
God called our names and pursued us in many ways from burning bushes to parting seas, to commandments etched in stone by the very finger of the Ancient of Days. But we just couldn’t seem to grasp the idea that what he was after – was us! He wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us. Somehow in the midst of it all we fell upon our own sword. We began to worship the rules and our life on earth, forgetting that we are spiritual beings temporarily housed in a human body. We wrongly think that if only we are good enough, or successful enough, or own the finest house that we win the game of life, and then God will love us. What we can’t seem to grasp is that HE ALREADY DOES; He loves us unconditionally. And it is that undeserved love or grace that makes us want to mend our ways. We only need accept it and give it back to Him and to others.
The whole Old Testament is full of His attempts to love on us and our failures to reach out and take that love. At the very moment in time when it seemed as though we were lost forever, spiraling downward into a hell of our own making at breakneck speed, that God put His plan into action. He knew the world needed help! A savior! The smoke signals were floating up to above from our puny planet! We simply could not save ourselves! God knew in His heart there was only one way. It was a plan that was predicted, yet very few would recognize as it unfolded. God Himself would come down and save us.
So He did. But not in the way anyone was expecting. Riding in on a white horse, wiping out the bad guys? You bet, we would buy that plan. A conquering hero, yes of course that is how He would come to us. But the God who made the sun, moon and stars, formed into a fetus and born to a mom and dad just like you and I? No way, that’s nuts! The voice that spoke the earth, sea and sky into being speaking truth face to face with the beings He breathed life into? Naw. The hands that healed the lame and opened the eyes of the blind took the nails and felt pain? Crazy making stuff. But oh my yes that is just exactly what he did. And the God- Man Jesus died, just like you and I will someday die. But the big difference is this: Jesus, God with skin on, died on that Good Friday so very long ago to pay the ransom note for our freedom. The very freedom we can use to either come back into the presence of the Father through Jesus Christ or use to reject Him, and therefore choose hell.
Today is that silent day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Have you ever wondered where Jesus was on this day? The Apostles Creed tells he descended into hell. Christ spent the day in hell separated from God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the first and only time. Because he loves us, and Romans tells us that God will go to any length to find us. We serve a God who has been to hell and back for us.
And if we are honest, the hell in our lives has been largely of our own making. Yes, we not only choose hell on earth, but we also choose hell for eternity. It is a choice WE are free to make. Worship God alone, accept Jesus the God man’s grace and give it way to others. That is it. These are the keys to the kingdom. God doesn’t put us in hell; we are free to walk up to the counter buy the one-way ticket ourselves.
God makes easy terms to those who wish to find him. He calls us by name. Sinner come home. Tomorrow we will celebrate Easter and new life in the Spirit! The proof is the empty tomb. God is not dead! We follow a living, loving God who loves us enough to live, to die, to spend a day in hell and rise from the dead for us. What a crazy and wonderful true story of love and divine rescue.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)
Christ is risen!
Be joy filled always,