- Alan Salwei
Matthew 27:45-50 - Descended to Hell
The word 'hell' gets used flippantly, but be reminded what it means to be forsaken by God.
Read / Listen
Read Matthew 27:45-50
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 44
Q. Why does the creed add,
“He descended to hell”?
A. To assure me in times
of personal crisis and temptation
that Christ my Lord,
by suffering unspeakable anguish,
pain, and terror of soul,
especially on the cross
but also earlier,
has delivered me from the anguish
and torment of hell.
It was around three in the afternoon when the depth of Jesus’ suffering was displayed as he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ cry is a fulfillment of Psalm 22, which begins with the very same words written by David hundreds of years earlier, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
By the time of Jesus’ distress-filled cry, he had already suffered greatly. In addition to the physical pain, being crucified was physically exhausting. Hanging from nail pierced wrists severely restricts one’s breathing and circulation. Those hung on a cross would use their feet to push up slightly, allowing them the ability to take a breath. Often the cause of death of one crucified was either from exhaustion itself or suffocating because the condemned no longer held the strength necessary to push himself up to draw the next breath.
It was Jesus in this tired and weary state who cried out to God. The words he spoke were misunderstood by some as him calling out to Elijah, since the words sound similar (Eli... Eli...). However, Jesus’ cry was not for Elijah, but for God the Father, to whom Jesus cried out in his distress, only to receive no answer.
It was not until later that the disciples understood that at the point of Jesus’ suffering when he cried out, that Christ was enduring the wrath of God’s judgment on sin. Dying by crucifixion was a painful and humiliating way to die, strung out for all to see in your suffering. However, the true suffering of the cross was not the physical toll on Jesus’ body. Far greater than the agony of the nails was Jesus taking upon himself the full wrath of God towards unrighteousness.
In taking upon himself the consequences of sin, Jesus saves you and all who believe from having to face the same type of hellish anguish and torment. Truly there is nothing that we could offer that would come close to repaying Jesus for the cost he paid on our behalf. What we can do is live for Him, taking upon ourselves the same attitude that Paul expressed to the Philippians in our devotion on Wednesday, “for me to live is Christ.”
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father God, who will never forsake His children who come to Him through Christ;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that Jesus went through hell for you and pray that you will now live for Him.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Matthew 12