I recently heard a preacher state that Jesus died and then went to Hell for three days to suffer for our sins. This is absolutely wrong! Let’s look at a few scripture passages to see what really happened.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? Ephesians 4:8-9
Jesus did in fact descend into the lowest parts of the earth. Does that mean he did suffer in Hell? Or is there something else besides Hell that is located in the lowest parts of the earth?
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich manâ€™s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abrahamâ€™s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my fatherâ€™s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. Luke 16:19-30
The rich man died and went to Hell – a place of torments. Lazarus also died, but he neither went to Hell to be tormented nor went to Heaven to be with God. Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom where there was no suffering. Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom. Where is Abraham’s bosom? In the scripture we see that it is next to Hell and the two are separated by a gulf. The rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus. In the lowest parts of the earth, there were two places: Hell and Abraham’s bosom. The lost went to Hell and the saved went to Abraham’s bosom.
Now we know that there are two places in the lowest parts of the earth. So how can we tell if Jesus went to Hell to suffer for three days or if he went to Abraham’s bosom?
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:39-43
According to the scriptures, when did Jesus tell the repentant thief he would be with him in paradise? Today! Not after three days. The day Jesus died, he went to paradise. Would you call a place of torments paradise? Doesn’t it sound more like a description of Abraham’s bosom where people are comforted?
So if Jesus did not go to Hell to suffer for our sins, when was God’s wrath poured out on him as the penalty for our sins?
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30
Right before Jesus died, he said “It is finished.” He must have suffered all of God’s wrath before he died. Do the scriptures support this?
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Matthew 27:45-46
For three hours, from the sixth to the ninth hour, God turned the lights out on the earth because he didn’t want anyone looking in when he poured out all of his wrath on his son – when he bruised the son for our iniquities. It was during these three hours that God the son had become sin for us and he could not call God, Father, as before. The son was forsaken by the Father. It was during these three hours that Jesus suffered in our place. Jesus did not have to go to Hell to suffer the torments of those flames.
Have you been born-again? The wrath that God poured out on Jesus for your sins was so horrible that God darkened the whole earth so no one could see how horrible it was. If you reject the price that Christ paid for you, God will repay you with the same wrath. Jesus was able to suffer the eternal wrath of God in three hours because Jesus is an eternal being. Since you are not an eternal being, you will have to suffer God’s wrath for all of eternity. You are a transgressor of God’s laws. You have lied. You have not honored your parents. You have not loved God with your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your might. You have murdered in your heart if you have ever hated another. You are an adulterer in heart if you have ever lusted. You are guilty. Justice demands punishment for your transgressions. Jesus has paid your penalty. To receive God’s mercy, confess and forsake your sins today. Trust in the finished work of Christ.