What do we mean when we profess that Jesus descended into hell after his death? Today, Dr. Sri unpacks this mystery of the Catholic faith and shows us how Jesus’ descent into hell is a crucial aspect of our salvation and a source of hope when we find ourselves in deep darkness.
Snippet from the Show
Jesus’ descent into hell reminds us that Jesus is not afraid of the dark. He desires to descend into the darkest corners of our soul, where his light can shine the brightest.
Jesus Descends Into Hell
Jesus’ descent into hell is an essential part of the Catholic faith and our salvation. But why did Jesus descend into hell? What did he do there?
Jesus’ descent into hell was part of Christ’s Messianic mission. Throughout his ministry, Jesus reached out to all who were lost. He wasn’t afraid of people’s darkness. He sat with sinners and those rejected in society to heal them, free them, and win their hearts back to God. He had an urgent and pressing desire to go to all the dark corners of society. When Jesus experienced death, he descended into the realm of the dead (sheol), where souls couldn’t see God face to face because the doors of heaven weren’t open yet. Before the resurrection of Christ, the devil oppressed the world with death. When Jesus descended into hell, he went to rescue all the holy men and women who were in the realm of the dead. By descending into hell and bringing his light to all the righteous, Jesus freed them from the curse of death.
Jesus redeemed even death itself, death no longer has any power over us. Instead, he made death an entry way into heaven, a birth moment into the fullness of life in eternity. Death can no longer separate us from the love of God. Although we all have to face death, the sacrifice of Christ allows us to share in the life of the risen Christ.
Jesus’ Descent Into Our Hearts
Jesus’ descent into hell is not just an abstract doctrine, it has a real application in our walk with the Lord every day. Jesus desires to descend into the darkest areas of our own soul. He wants to enter the lifeless parts of our hearts that are in need of his love. The risen Christ longs to heal and transform our fears, anxieties, insecurities, sorrow, discouragement, and doubts. In the darkness, Jesus is still at work. We may not feel his presence at times, but he is still constantly redeeming. Although there may be times in our own walk with God, when it seems like nothing is happening in our spiritual lives, and we are experiencing lifeless and dry seasons in life, we must remember that sometimes those are the moments where God is doing his most amazing work. Let us continue to pray and trust that he’s always at work in the deepest caverns of our souls even if we’re not aware of it. Allow the risen Christ to come into the darkest parts of your soul so that he can rise in you.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.
In the podcast, you say that Jesus releases the righteous dead from the grasp of Satan. How could the righteous dead still be in Satan’s grasp?
Read Matthew 12: 38-41. Here Jesus spoke of the “sign of Jonah” and directly spoke that just like Jonah was in the belly of the fish so he would descend into the center of the Earth for three days. The Jews and most people both Jews and Gentiles believed Hell was in the core of the earth because fire and brimstone are what came out of volcanos and those words were often used by Jesus as to where the wicked would spend eternity John 20: 17 Jesus here speaks to Mary Magdalene when he reveals himself to her as the first person to reach the grave. ”17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ this is on the third day after the crucifixion so where was he for the three days between, he has in Hell wherein Revalations 1:17,18 he speaks to John in his vision that he held the keys of death and Hades. how could He have these unless He went tc Hades and took them from Satan
How does Purgatory fit into this? I get that Jesus took death away from Satan and opened the gates of Heaven, but when did Purgatory come to exist?