He descended into Hell- Part Three
In 1946 New York City hosted a ticker tape parade for our returning troops. It was a celebration of victory over Nazi Germany with a show of artillery and tanks. The 82nd Airborne Division was chosen to represent the 16 million who served. When Jesus’ physical body died on the cross there was also a parade yet His spiritual mission wasn’t completed.
Jesus’ victory parade would commence in the underworld, Sheol. The souls of the believers resided temporarily in Abraham’s Bosom (the place of bliss) and the souls of the rebellious remain permanently in Hades (the place of torment). We saw this illustrated in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16).
Part of His mission, as He hung on the cross, was to supernaturally be made sin itself (2 Cor. 2:21) so that we could be in right standing with God. It seemed as though His Father had abandoned Him yet He continued His assignment to ‘fulfill all things’.
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10 ESV)
Who were included in this ‘host of captives’ that He led out of Sheol? I submit that it was Noah and family, Abraham and family, David and family, etc. (Heb. 11:32-39). This parade included Old Testament saints who obeyed God and put their faith in the coming Messiah. The presentation of Jesus’ blood to the Father was the final offering for sin. Our Mediator’s blood speaks of forgiveness but it also cries out for vengeance in Sheol.
This procession was evidence that Jesus was the final Victor over death. He not only carried the blood for the heavenly Mercy Seat but He had in His hand the canceled ledger of our sin. Those items would be presented to the heavenly Judge and our righteousness would be procured. During those three days Jesus proved to all: Satan, the demons, and the rebellious, that Sheol no longer had power over Him or His followers. Only the Messiah had the ultimate authority to set these saints free.
He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Colossians 2:14, 15 NLT)
That public spectacle, the Victory Parade, undoubtedly included Jesus, our Representative and the freed captives. The 82nd Airborne, marching in perfect time, is a great video and beautifully illustrates the finished work of the cross. I believe Jesus’ descent into hell was part of that mission and all of creation was watching.