TO CHEW ON: “Therefore He says:
‘When He ascended on high
He led captivity captive
And gave gifts to men.’
(Now this, ‘He ascended’ – what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?) Ephesians 4:8-9
On this day between when we celebrate Jesus’ death and His resurrection it is appropriate to spend some time thinking about the price Jesus paid to procure our salvation. What was He doing between when He died and rose again? Paul alludes to Jesus’ activity in this interval. He quotes part of a prophetic psalm (68:18) then takes a word from that psalm, “ascends” to deduce that if Jesus ascended, He necessarily first descended.
"Jesus in Hades"
Woodcut by an unknown Master
connected to the Protestant Reformation era
writings. Published in 1550.
1. A descent into hell (1 Peter 3:18-19).
2. A descent into Sheol/Hades the realm of the dead (Acts 2:25-35).*
3. A symbolic reference to His incarnation, where His coming to earth from heaven was the descent.
Whatever He did, it was sufficient. It purchased our salvation. Praise the Lord! And it made possible the “gifts’ that are the main subject of this passage – those talents and abilities the Holy Spirit gives us and empowers with supernatural effectiveness to ensure the health of His earthly body, the church.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for paying the price for my salvation. Help me to live full-out, expending my talents, using my gifts for Your glory. Amen.
MORE: Whatever the cost and procedure (a descent into hell included, if that was indeed the case) Jesus paid it all. An old hymn of the church by that name had its origins in this poem:
I hear my Savior say
Thy strength indeed is small,
Thou has naught My debt to pay,
Find in Me thy all in all.
Yea, nothing good have I,
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him,
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ‘neath His side,
I am divinely blest.
When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
Jesus paid it all
Shall rend the vaulted skies.
Elvina M. Hall (1865)
Kristian Stanfill sings a modern version of “Jesus Paid It All”
*Referring to the descent into hell or Sheol, the writer of the article makes this statement: “There is no biblical support for the notion that Jesus suffered in hell, only that He descended to Sheol to release the righteous dead into eternal glory, proclaiming the adequacy of the Atonement and validating the testimony of the prophets.” New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1650.
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