Most believers are familiar with the main events of Holy Week, although they may not know on which particular day each event took place. However, if you ask a fellow Christian, “What did Jesus do on Saturday?” many will confess they do not know.
Some will guess, “Jesus rested in the tomb. After all, it was the Sabbath day.” Well, they would be correct if they are talking about the physical body of Jesus. His body lay in the tomb from late Friday afternoon to sometime Sunday morning.
But that is not where the Jesus we know and love was. Just as if someone asks about one of your deceased loved ones, one whom you knew was saved, and not knowing that they died a year or so ago, they ask, “Where is she?” You would not say, “Oh, she is in the grave at the cemetery in our hometown.” No! You would say, “Oh, she is in heaven! She died in January a year ago.”
On Saturday, the body, the “tent” in which Jesus lived for 33 years upon this earth was in the tomb. But when Jesus died, His soul and spirt left His body. That is what death is. That is why the Scripture says, “Bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)
So, I ask again, more technically this time, “Where did the soul and spirit of Jesus go when He died?” With the question put like that, some may say, “To Heaven, just like we believers do when we die! ´Absent from the body, present with the Lord.´”
Nope! Not yet! Sunday morning Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and …
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” John 20:17 NKJV
Since as of Sunday morning, Jesus had not ascended back to the Father (He would go later that day), where was He on Saturday? Where were the soul and spirit of Jesus on Saturday?
And now many, many people are saying, “We don´t know.”
But we do! The Holy Spirit told us through Peter in his first letter.
1 Peter 3:18-20 NKJV 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine long suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
The spirit and soul of Jesus went to Paradise, that portion of Sheol (the place of the dead) to which all Old Testament believers went awaiting the completion of the work Christ did upon the cross on Holy Friday. Remember how Jesus told the repentant thief, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) So when Jesus and the thief died, the soul and spirit of each of them went to Paradise, where they rejoiced in the presence of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Joseph, Judah, Rahab, Ruth, David, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a host of others who trusted in Messiah before He ever came to the earth.
What a celebration they must have had. What a glorious time of worship and praise must have rocked that place of comfort and waiting where so many of them had been for centuries, longing for this moment to come! No wonder Jesus was there in the spirit for at least a part of three days, Friday from 3 p.m. to sunset, Saturday all day, and Sunday until sometime before sunrise (or should we say Sonrise?), when the spirit and soul of the Lord Jesus returned to His mutilated body and by the power of God raised it from the dead – now a glorious, resurrection body!
But let me back up, because Peter tells us of something else Jesus did while He was in Sheol. Sheol was made of three parts: Paradise for believers, Hell for unbelievers, and a Great Gulf between the two (Luke 16:26). At the bottom of the Great Gulf was the abyss, which was, and still is, a prison house for the fallen angels who sinned grievously against God in the days before the Great Flood (Genesis 6:1-2).
Peter tells us that Jesus preached, literally proclaimed, to these disobedient spirits in prison. I believe Jesus announced what they and the spirits of men and women in hell dreaded to hear – that God had been faithful to keep His promise. He, Jesus, was indeed the Messiah, and He had once and for all paid the penalty for the sins of mankind. To those in hell, this was not an invitation to believe or a second chance. As Jesus had said to Nicodemus, those who did not believe were “condemn already.” (John 3:18) All of those who had believed in Him, even before He came to the earth, He would now lead out of Paradise and take them to His home in heaven.
This is why Matthew tells us that after Jesus rose, many of the saints were seen walking the streets of Jerusalem. (Matthew 27:52) Jesus must have given them an hour or two after leading them from Paradise on Sunday morning before taking them with Him to heaven, where He would offer His blood to the Father to make a propitiation for our sins! (Hebrews 2:17, 9:12)
My, my, my! What a Saturday!
Please Join Us This Week!
9:00am - Choir Led Service
9:00am - LifeChange Groups (small groups)
10:30am - Band Led Service
10:30am - LifeChange Groups (small groups)
10:30am - KidZone Live (K-6th Grade)
St. Andrew Baptist Church
3010 W. 15th Street
Panama City, FL 32401
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