We know from Scripture that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. The religious leaders were eager to get the job done before the Sabbath started at sunset. Jewish days are counted from evening to evening of the next day, which means that from Friday evening to Saturday evening was day two of the crucifixion scenario. The darkness falls again on Saturday evening, only to be dispelled by the morning light of the 3rd day, which was Sunday, the start of the new week on the Jewish calendar.
This particular day dawned with the Light of the Morning Star. This dawn was unlike any other experienced on the earth so far in history. For this 3rd day dawned with resurrection—also something that had never occurred on the earth so far in history. It shall be seen again on the 3rd Day, the last Day in Christ’s prophetic great Week when counting from Christ.
The Chronos Lesson: Why did God wait to resurrect Jesus from the dead? Why didn’t He do it immediately? It all had to do with the appointed time. For Christ’s resurrection would foreshadow our own resurrection as members of His Body on the 3rd Day.
We also know from Scripture that very early on the third day, the Sabbath, the women who had witnessed the crucifixion came to prepare the Lord’s body for burial with spices. His body was gone! Probably fearing that the Romans had taken the body, they were startled by two angels that assured them that Jesus had been raised from the dead, just as He had taught them.
Still stunned, Mary Magdalene lingered at the tomb, crying in grief. Then she heard a familiar voice. Turning, she recognized the Teacher. She saw the risen Lord! Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God” (John 20:17).
But before Jesus ascends, He descends. Ephesians 4:9 records: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” We don’t have to guess what this means. We use the Spirit-inspired connections so that Scripture interprets Scripture. I Peter 3:19 tells us that Jesus “went and preached to the spirits in prison.” Who were the spirits in prison?
The Old Testament saints who followed God’s ways. They could not go to Heaven when they died because Jesus the Seed had not yet been planted in the earth and had not yet overcome death for all mankind. Instead, they went to a separate, protected compartment within Hell preserved for them called Abraham’s Bosom. Jesus preached the Gospel to those held captive by death.
Scripture then tells us that Christ ascended on high with all these Old Covenant saints. Hosea prophesied about this event: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes” (Hosea 13:14). So, too, did Zechariah: “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit” (Zech. 9:11).
Hebrews 12:23 reports that these Old Covenant saints are now before the throne of God, “the spirits of just men made perfect.” For the record, these saints will not come with Christ at the rapture. He will only bring the dead in Christ who are part of His Church, those who believed by faith without having seen Him. The Old Testament saints will receive their resurrection at the end of the Day of the Lord, at the final judgment.
By descending into Hell, Colossians 2:15 affirms that Jesus “disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” No wonder in Revelation 1:18 the ascended Lord makes this triumphant declaration to the apostle John, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades [Hell] and of Death.” For believers, death has lost its sting! This triumphant declaration continues to ring throughout the Church Age.
By overcoming death, Jesus triumphed over Satan’s power to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). So how is it that he is allowed to go about as a roaring lion? Because it is not yet time for Satan and his forces to be incarcerated. That comes in the age to come, the 1,000-year Day of the Lord. For now, he goes about spreading lies and deceptions, seeking who will be lured into his lair or at the very least take his bait.
This is why knowledge of the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection—His finished work—is what sets people free. Once you know the truth, Satan’s deceptions no long have any power of you. That is, unless you let him deceive you. He may roar his lies at you in an effort to devour your faith in God. Yet all you have to do to drown him out is to submit to God and resist the devil.