Jesus told his disciples that, just as Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights, Jesus would be in the “heart of the earth” for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40).
Ever thought about what he was doing during this time? Well, you don’t have to. The Catechism is pretty clear. It says he went to a temporary realm of the dead called Hades (or Sheol) to free those who had been kept there in captivity (many evangelicals believe this too).
This solves a well known Christian problem: If Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the father except through Him, what happened to good people, such as Joshua or Abraham, who died before Jesus came to save the world? Jesus himself gives us a clue in Luke:
“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 Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side." (16:22-23)
It appears, from Jesus story, that there are two parts of Hades, a place of torment where bad people went, and a place of non-suffering where the souls of good people went. So the tradition is that Jesus went to bring up the spirits of good people from Hades between his death and resurrection.
Here are some key quotes:
Paragraph 633 of the catechism tells us:
“Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead.”
In a letter to his friend Evodius, Augstine said:
“It is established beyond question that the Lord, after He had been put to death in the flesh, descended into hell.”
“It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."(paragraph 632).
So the question is, do you really believe this?