Hey Ralph! I have a question, where exactly did Jesus go when he died? I know He didn't go to hell, but can you shine some light? Thanks.
My response is in Green:
I think I can shed some light on where Jesus went. As you said, He did not go to hell or at least not hell as we know it. I believe He did go to Hades and I will try to give you Scriptural evidence of that.
I have to give some background first so I can show what I am talking about. I want to use Jesus' own words, so let me quote a story He told and then explain it.
(Luke 16:19-24 NIV)  "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores  and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'"
I did not quote the entire story but enough to make the point. Notice that both the non-believer (the rich man) and the believer (Lazarus) went to Hades. There were two parts, hell and what the Jews called either Abraham's bosom or Paradise. Paradise was a comfortable place of peace and rest and hell was a place of torment.
Now look at something else Jesus said, this time from the cross: (Luke 23:40-43 NIV)  But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Today you will be with me in Paradise. I believe that shows that when Jesus died He went to Hades to Abraham's bosom or Paradise. Now let me give you a little more information about it.
(1 Peter 3:18-19 NIV)  For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,  through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison...
As we saw from the story Jesus told, the people in hell could hear and see the people in Paradise, so Jesus could have preached to those in hell. Not a sermon of redemption but of condemnation for their rebellion. You might be wondering why believers did not go to heaven when they died. I have the answer to that too.
Look at this:
(Hebrews 9:1-4 NIV)  Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.  A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.  Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place,  which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron´s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
The most holy place was were God's glory resided. This is how He showed the Israelites that He was their God, His glory would reside on top of the atonement cover. Only the High Priest could enter this holy place and only once a year. If anyone else tried to enter they would die.
(Hebrews 9:7-8 NIV)  But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.  The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.
(Hebrews 9:11-12 NIV)  When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
We see from these passages that the earthly tabernacle was just a representation of the true tabernacle in heaven. The earthly High Priest would make atonement for the people once a year, year after year. Jesus on the other hand make a one time atonement, but that is not all He did. He also opened the way for us to come directly into the presence of God.
Look at what happened the moment Jesus died on the cross: (Matthew 27:50-51 NIV)  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 and the rocks split.
The curtain was what separated the Most Holy Place from the common places. People could not even look into the Most Holy Place, but when Jesus died He opened up the Most Holy Place and made it possible for redeemed people to come into the very presence of God.
Now look at this passage: (Ephesians 4:7-8 NIV)  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."
Who were the captives? They were the Old Testament believers who were in Paradise. Until Jesus shed His blood and opened the Most Holy Place for all mankind, they could not go into the presence of God the Father. After He died, they could and He took them to heaven with Him. Now when a believer dies they go straight to be with Jesus in heaven.
I hope that answers your question.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
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