Tuesday, February 7, 2017

THE DAY IN BETWEEN


On a hill far away, two thousand plus years ago, Jesus Christ finished the plan of humanity's redemption by surrendering His life on The Cross. At that moment victory and freedom were paid for but not manifest - yet. The sheer weight of power and authority that Jesus' sacrifice had at that moment could not keep nature and the dead from reacting. Here is what Scripture recalls.


Matthew 27:50-54

"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God!'"


I think it an interesting observation that those many holy people who were dead and were now raised to life, knew somehow to physically remain in their tombs until Jesus rose again fulfilling Colossians 1:18 - "...he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead...". However, just because Christ's Finished Mission was done and there were outward signs to prove it, He did not stop working.

Paul, in his letter to the believers in Ephesus, quotes Psalm 68:18 in describing where Jesus was and what He did in The Day In Between His death and resurrection.

Ephesians 4:8-10

This is why it says:  “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

If ever we get our picture of Hades being located somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth - it is here. Looking up the original Greek for "lower, earthly regions", katoteros is the word used for "lower" and means inferior (locally, of Hades). The "earthly regions" part tell us this is an actual place beneath our feet. What was Jesus doing there? Taking captivity captive or setting the captives free. 1 Peter 3:18-20 actually gives us a mental picture of how Christ did this.

1 Peter 3:18-20

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—  to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

Here we have a little more detail. Those who died at least from the days of Noah until Christ's days are the ones mentioned here as being proclaimed to. What did He proclaim? The power of His saving blood for the redemption of all humanity - past, present and future! I can hear an imprisoned spirit saying at that moment, "How are we going to see this salvation manifested?" Then Jesus might have replied, "You will ascend with me to Paradise after I take back my life from death and the grave." Paul and Timothy continue this in their letter to the believers in Colossae.

Colossians 2:13-15

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Because of Christ's powerful sacrifice on the cross, Jesus' triumph was at least as splendid. "The word 'triumph' is taken from the Greek word triambeuo, which is a technical word used to describe a general or an emperor returning home from a grand victory in the enemy's territory. Specifically, the word "triumph" was used to describe the emperor's triumphal parade when he returned home.

When a returning emperor or general came striding through the gates on his big, powerful, and beautiful horse, he was accompanied by his fellow victorious warriors, who also appeared glorious after their triumphant battle. As the parade followed, the weaponry and treasures seized from the enemy's territory were grandly displayed for all to see.

The grand finale to this triumphal procession was the foreign ruler himself. This ruler had been beaten and bound in chains and was now being forced to walk in disgrace, shame, dishonor, embarrassment and humiliation as crowds of people came to celebrate his defeat and to get a 'peek' at a once-powerful but now totally defeated opponent. 

So when Colossians 2:15 declares that Jesus triumphed over evil powers, it is explicitly declaring that Jesus took the enemy apart piece by piece as He thoroughly 'spoiled principalities and powers'." (p.75, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Rick Renner)

John records Jesus said,  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). However, not only did Christ overcome the world, He overcame the prince of this world, Satan, his minions, death and the grave! Our enemy is the walking dead or walking defeated. And a lot of this stemmed from The Day In Between.