In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, I had two different people ask me the same question: “Where did Christ’s soul go after His death?” So I felt led of the Lord to build my Easter sermon around that question. What I’d like to do with my next few posts is share that information with you.
Let me begin by saying that every human being consists of a body, a soul, and a spirit. This applied to Jesus as well because He was God in human flesh. I could use individual passages that specifically mention the body, other passages that mention the spirit, and other passages that mention the soul, but I’ll just go with 1 Thessalonians 5:23, which brings all three into play:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Several months ago I devoted a series of posts to the body, the soul, and the spirit, and I’ll not repeat all that information. Let me just say that each human being is a soul who lives in a body and possesses a spirit. The soul is the eternal you. The body is that which houses the soul. The spirit is the life-giving spark of God that makes the body alive. As James 2:26 says, “…the body without the spirit is dead.”
Now, we know what happened to Christ’s body after His death, don’t we? Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus removed the body from the cross, bound it in strips of linen, and buried it in Joseph of Arimathea’s personal tomb (John 19:38-42). Furthermore, we also know what happened to Christ’s spirit. His last words on the cross weren’t, “It is finished,” as some people wrongly believe (John 19:30). Not long after He uttered those words He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). This chimes in perfectly with Ecclesiastes 12:7, which teaches that at death the spirit returns to God. And so all this leaves only the matter of what happened to Christ’s soul after His death.
Thankfully, the Bible hasn’t left us in the dark as to the answer. As a part of the famous sermon that Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection and ascension, he loosely quoted Psalm 16:8-11, which is an Old Testament Messianic passage that speaks of Jesus. In Acts 2:27, we read these words from that passage:
For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
Frankly, these words really aren’t hard to understand. First, the part about God the Father not allowing Christ to see corruption refers to Christ’s body not experiencing the normal process of decay in the tomb. Second, the part about not leaving Christ’s soul in Hades refers to His soul going there after His death but not remaining there. The point is, Christ’s soul obviously went to Hades immediately following His death.
This gets us onto the subject of Hades, and since that is something of a complex subject I’ll wait until my next post to tackle it. I’m not trying to needlessly draw this out. Nor is this a ploy to keep you coming back. It just takes a little bit of time to get everything explained. So please stay tuned.