Surely he was not just sleeping. Is it too mysterious a topic to explore? Doesn’t the creed say “descended to the dead” or “descended into Hell”…so I’d think Jesus went into Sheol, but it seems Hell did actually exist at the time as well. Didn’t it? What he was up to on Holy Saturday seems like a great mystery. Thoughts?
I think thats where He went: He opened the gates of hell, so that souls could go to Heaven. Also, something I have always wondered: what time did He get up on Easter Sunday morning? & what did He say to the guards at the tomb as He passed them by? & who did He go to see first? = I think it would have been His mother for sure.
1 Peter 3 says that Jesus went to preach to the spirits in prison.
It is not what we think of as Hell.
And there are those who hold that HE in fact raised around midnight on Saturday (which is biblically, the next day, Sunday) around the time that Christians pray the Easter Vigil.
Wouldn’t Jesus be resting on the Sabbath?
This is what He was up to:
The Lord’s Descent Into Hell**: A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday**
**"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.
Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.
‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.
‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.
‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.
'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.
`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.
‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.
“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”**
2 And suddenly there was a great trembling of the earth, because an angel of the Lord came to the place, descending from heaven, and rolled away the stone and sat over it;
3 his face shone like lightning, and his garments were white as snow;
4 so that the guards trembled for fear of him, and were like dead men.
5 But the angel said openly to the women, “You need not be afraid; I know well that you have come to look for Jesus of Nazareth, the man who was crucified.
6 He is not here; he has risen, as he told you. Come and see the place where the Lord was buried.”
The guards were like dead men (fainted?) and when the angel rolled away the stone, he told the women that Jesus was not there. In other words, He had already arisen and the tomb was empty.
Just as He could enter a locked room to be with his disciples on Easter evening, so Jesus could also leave the tomb before the stone had been rolled away.
11 Mary Magdalene stood without before the tomb, weeping. And she bent down, still weeping, and looked into the tomb;
12 and saw two angels clothed in white sitting there, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 They said to her, “Woman, why art thou weeping?” “Because they have carried away my Lord,” she said, “and I cannot tell where they have taken him.”
14 Saying this, she turned round, and saw Jesus standing there, without knowing that it was Jesus.
15 “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why art thou weeping? For whom art thou searching?” She supposed that it must be the gardener, and said to him, “If it is thou, Sir, that hast carried him off, tell me where thou hast put him, and I will take him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” And she turned and said to him, “Rabboni” (which is the Hebrew for Master).
Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. He told her to bring the good news of His resurrection to the apostles. This is why she is called the apostle to the apostles
:hmmm: But that would’ve required him to rest in a tomb, which would have made him unclean according to Jewish law
Good point! But he is Lord of the Sabbath, as Christians believe. Additionally, he did do good works on the Sabbath much to the dismay of the Pharisses.
Being dead is already fully unclean under the Jewish law.
It’s a shame He didn’t show His renewed body to the Pharisees, just so the evangelists could have recorded them having a cow! :):)
That’s an interesting thought…
So, in Sheol perhaps the souls there could either accept his preaching or not? Seems plausible.
I remember learning about Jesus descending into hell (or “to the dead”) to the Limbo of the patriarchs, prophets, all the righteous who died before the Lord and were awaiting their salvation.
In fact, isn’t the use of the word “hell” misleading in that some seem to think of it as the hell of the damned, and it was not. I understand the word in Hebrew is something else (spelling?). The use of the word “hell” can be confusing to those who haven’t studied much about translations and meanings.
I am wondering if there was Gehenna, which is Hell of the damned it seems, so some souls were there and others were in Sheol? I’m not sure. Perhaps Jesus spoke of Gehenna more in the future tense, or however you might phrase it.
Not “unclean” in the usual sense of the English word. The word in Hebrew is “tuma,” which means that the spirit or soul has separated (for the most part) from the body of the dead person and returned to G-d. There is a spiritual transfiguration associated with this kind of uncleanliness. Likewise, burying and thus coming into contact with a dead person does not render one unclean or unholy since burial is itself a commandment.
This passage never ceases to amaze me every time this pops out at me during Holy Saturday’s Office of Readings.
It’s one of my favorites. One of our former pastors used to give it as a reflection after the reading at Morning Prayer on Holy Saturday.
No mystery …He did what you said. He went to free the captive souls.
Jesus said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath.
Since discovering this poem years ago this is what I think he was doing:
The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”
A murmurous excitement stirred all souls.
they wondered if they dreamed-
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.
And Moses standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.
No canticle at all was sung.
None toned a psalm, or raising a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is your Mother,
How is your Mother, Son?”
Sister Mary Ada, C.S.J.