Did Jesus Suffer in Hell?
Main Verse: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
DEATH contrasted to LIFE.
The wages of sin is not only dying to the flesh, but receiving eternal punishment in Hell. That is if you’re without Christ.
So if you were to die today, with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you would suffer not only physical death, but eternal punishment of the soul.
Now, when seek to understand prophecy regarding Jesus Christ as the Messiah, there are companion Scriptures that go hand in hand with one another. You can’t really understand fully, NT fulfillments of prophecy without first knowing about OT foundations of those prophecies. And that is really key to understanding this sermon.
There is a companion verse in Genesis:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
- What God merely talking about physical death?
The Bible states that Adam went on to live 930 years.
The Sentence of death was not merely physical, but spiritual.
Then, if spiritual, Christ also had to suffer spiritual death, temporarily, in order to pay the full penalty for our sins.
In other words, when we die physically, life does not end. There is a judgment of the spirit, of the soul, and of the whole person. The penalty of sin is not merely physical punishment, but spiritual punishment as well.
And it is this penalty which Jesus voluntary paid on our behalf in order to reconcile us to God the Father.
Now, Hell could not Contain Him, because He is God.
But that He descended down into Hell is not in dispute, unless you have a warped view of Hell and believe that there’s a supposed “good compartment” in “Sheol”.
Now I went into detail in my last sermon, entitled, “The Myth of Abraham’s Bosom”, in which I prove from the Bible that Abraham’s Bosom is not a “place”, but a metaphor of heaven, where the Lazarus of Luke 16:19-31 rests in the real and literal bosom of Abraham, sort of the way that we see a picture of John the Apostle reclining at Jesus’ chest or bosom at the Last Supper.
The Bible Says that Jesus Bore Our Sins IN HIS OWN BODY
1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed”.
1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit …”
So we see that Jesus bore our sins IN his body, He took on the sins of the whole world, and as a consequence, had to endure the punishment for sin.
Background: Now It helps to answer the question: why Jesus was dead for 3 days, as opposed to say, 2 or 4 or 10. Nothing in the Bible is accidental. There must have been a reason for God to choose 3 days.
Fulfillment of Prophecy
Ultimately, the main reason that Jesus remained dead for three days was to fulfill prophecy. It was a sign that He was the Messiah, as he informed the Pharisees of his time who asked for a sign in. Now we’ll get to that in a moment, but it can be informative to explore some speculative reasons …
such as that the human body begins to radically decompose after 3-4 days. Now Jesus was wrapped in linen and his body was perfumed with spices, as was the tradition of the day, to mask the stench that would naturally arise from being dead ….
But after several days his body would really begin to decompose, such as was Lazarus, the brother of Martha, when he was raised from the dead. Now this is not the same Lazarus as from Luke 16, but Martha’s brother, one of three people that Jesus reaised from the dead during His earthly ministry.
Martha his sister states in John 11:39, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” Is it an accident that the Bible records that after four days (just one day longer than Jesus was in the grave). Lazarus was dead four days and it was worth mentioning that his body had really begun to have a foul stench. But Jesus was dead three days.
This coincides with Psalm 16:10 which states that God would not suffer “His Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). Psalm 16:10 is a Messianic prophecy which is later fulfilled, and we will turn to this in a moment.
But there are other speculative reasons which we can explore …
Such as the various symbolism from God’s Word: Abraham’s journey to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering was a three days’ journey. We know, of course, that the sacrifice of Isaac was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice.
The number three is also reminiscent of the Trinity – or the Past, the Present, and the Future, as when God says in the book of Revelation: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” –we see the triune attributes of God in these verses.
*** But first and foremost Three days was a fulfillment of prophecy about the Messiah, ABOUT JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, the most notable being Jonah 2:2 and Matthew 12:40
These again are companion verses about prophecy.
Jonah 2:2 – “…I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.”
- Many of you understand that Jonah is a picture of the pre-incarnate Christ. Jonah 2:2 states that Jonah cried out of the belly of Hell … of the belly of Hell cried I. There is no doubt that Jonah was in affliction when he was in the belly of the whale. This was not a place of “paradise” for Jonah, as those who believe in the two compartments theory of Sheol state. You know, they believe that Jesus actually descended into the “good compartment” of Sheol where he rested and where he spent time in Abraham’s Bosom. I say actually, Abraham will be spending time in Jesus’ bosom, it’s the other way around. But we see that this passage about Jonah in aguish is a fulfillment of prophecy.
We see this fulfilled in Matthew 12:39-40:
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is speaking to the unbelieving Jews, the Pharisees: “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
CENTER OF THE EARTH: 9,800 °F and full of fire.
REVIEW SHEOL ISSUE
Now for those who mistakenly believe that Jesus did not descend into Hell, but into the good compartment of “Sheol”, you can simply look at the above verse and see that it was out of affliction that Jonah cried out to the LORD.
If Jonah 2 is a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, which most Christians agree it is, then it follows suit that we must see Jonah’s affliction in the belly of the whale as a precursor of Christ’s suffering in Hell.
Now I want to get right to it. I’m going to give you Verses that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus did in fact suffer in Hell on our behalf … for remember, the penalty of sin is not only physical death, but spiritual death as well.
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
“Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.”
INTERPRETING the Bible for you / TRANSLATING!
2 Peter 1:20: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
“because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay”
NOW THIS IS THE MOST CONVINCING PROOF THAT THERE IS:
Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
- We must understand the fulfillment of NT prophecy in light of the corresponding OT passages.
18 And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
19 And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
20 And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat.
21 And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
The Burn Offering was a “Whole Burnt” Offering which was totally consumed on the altar. No part of it was left.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roastwith fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
Look at all the offerings: they were all burnt with fire.
Leviticus 1, Sin offering as a voluntary offering of personal sin: “a burnt sacrifice of the herd … a male without blemish” (Leviticus 1:4) …
6 And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.
7 And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:
8 And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
Again, Ephesians 5:1-2: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
** Look at all the offerings in the Old Testament, they were all by fire.
Numbers 18:17: “But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.”
Numbers 28:2: “Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season.”
** Abraham’s Offering of Isaac as a Burnt Offering / God provides a ram.
Genesis 2:22: “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
We know, of course, God provided a ram, as a substitutionary sacrifice …
JOHN THE BAPTIST called JESUS: “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Thief on the Cross.
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).
John 3:3: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
Earthly ministry was finished. It also was a prophetic statement. Now He was to descend and to pay the penalty for our sins, and to rise again. The work was not truly finished until the resurrection.
Now I didn’t even get time to talk about the apostles creed which clearly states that Jesus descended into Hell.
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty …
Latin word for “Hell” there: “infero” or “inferno”.
THIS WAS PERSONAL
Now, this went beyond doctrine & theology for me. It was PERSONAL for me.
Did our Lord and Savior suffer in Hell? It’s hard to imagine.
It’s hard to comprehend that the God of the universe would do this for us.
Not only did Jesus suffer on this earth and die horribly on the Cross, but He also went to Hell ON OUR BEHALF.
The penalty of sin was paid both physically on the Cross and spiritually in Hell ON OUR BEHALF.
It was paid in full.
HOW GREAT IS HIS SACRIFICE.
It is much greater than we could have imagined.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
This is the true meaning of John 3:16:
“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Let us bow our heads in prayer …