The Reading: Matthew 27:57-65
“… he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb …” (v.9) RSV
Dark, dark is the day when Jesus lay in his cold, stone tomb. A great stone at the entrance and soldiers beyond that. The disciples, men and women, outside all in disarray. The Devil had done his worst; he seemed to have won the final victory. But though Jesus had gone the way of all flesh, the life in him was not dead. No, he lived on. His life could not be exterminated. That is why it was written, “he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). It was a law of nature. His old body died, as does everybody’s, but his immortal life lived on and he would rise again.
But before that glorious resurrection (of the body) Jesus went to Paradise. That is where he told the penitent thief on the cross beside him that they would go, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus departed his earthly life to join those who were ‘resting in the bosom of Abraham’ (see Explore More). The people of God up to that time had not had access into the heavenly presence of God, but had rested in Paradise. Jesus now went to them to lead them ‘through the veil’ into heaven itself, into the presence of God who was now their Father.
What I have written is slightly speculative. Christians are not entirely agreed upon this mysterious Saturday. But rest assured that Jesus did not descend to ‘Hell’ as the old creed said, at least not if it meant the final place of judgement and misery. He descended to Hades/Sheol where the departed go.
The Day of Judgement has not taken place yet, except for those who have believed. Believers have already passed through judgement and entered eternal life (John 3:36, 5:24). Fear not, Jesus has blazed the trail before us. All will be well.
My heart sinks, oh Lord, when I think of the death and departure of Jesus, and my own departure. Help me to trust that all will be well, for I know it will. Thank you Lord. Amen.
1 Consider again those verses on our eternal life
John 3:36, 5:24
2 Who lay in Abraham’s bosom?