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Sunday, October 2, 2016

10022016 - 19th Sunday After Trinity - Apostle's Creed - "He descended into Hell. And the third day He arose from the dead."

October 2, 2016
He descended into Hell.  [And] The third day He arose from the dead,

Have you ever looked out in the middle of a storm that rolls through during the middle of the day?  When you look out you can’t see the sun.  The clouds surround and encase our world and are dark and ominous, it creates a clear sense of uneasiness.  It’s just not normal.  Fear overcomes us and the darkness that surrounds us can seem like it is smothering us.  For some winter, when the days are shorter and the darkness is pervasive can have the same affect or reaction.  In countries that are nearer the Arctic Circle, for both the North and South poles, when the days sunlight is limited the feeling of the darkness not only surrounds, but clearly oppresses life and the period of darkness seems to last forever.
Enter Jesus lifeless body hanging from the Cross on Calvary.  For the disciples there seems to be no hope.  Looking back as we do from over 2000 years later, we have a very different perspective, because we know Easter is coming.  Yet, for the disciples, they didn’t yet understand what Jesus had told them.  They did not fully understand that Jesus had to die, but that on the Third Day at sunrise the Son-S-O-N would rise.  On that day the Son of God, Jesus Christ would be resurrected.  For this is the promise that during our days of darkness we can not only lay claim to, but believe, because we have been baptized into Jesus Christ life, His death on Calvary, but especially His resurrection from the dead.  But a question still persists, what happened between Good Friday and Jesus death on the Cross and Easter Sunday?
In our series on the Apostle’s Creed we not only have the answer, but we weekly confess a truth that for some makes them scratch our collective heads not only in wonder, but trying to wrap our heads around a truth found in Holy Scripture.  Here in the Second Article that deals specifically with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, we confess that Jesus Christ did something extraordinary.
We confess, He descended into Hell.  [And] The third day He arose from the dead,  In these thirteen words we make the boldest confession of what Jesus Christ specifically did after His death.  Non-Christians would claim this is nothing but myth.  But all of Christianity believes and confesses that Jesus Christ descended into Hell.
With Jesus Christ descent into Hell and our confession of this some non-believers and even some Christians who have not been taught would believe that it was in order for Jesus to be punished.  Or that it was in order that Jesus Christ would suffer in Hell.  But this is farthest from the truth.  Jesus Christ “descended into Hell” for only one reason and purpose.  To simply proclaim the completion of His mission here on earth to come and offer life and salvation that was finished on Calvary for all of mankind and redeem us from the sin of the world.  Jesus Christ “descended into Hell” to proclaim the greatest victory of all time and all place.  Jesus Christ “descended into Hell” in order to enter the ‘stronghold’ of Satan and to proclaim the victory His death on Calvary won for all of mankind.  In essence, to ‘set the record straight’, to insure the truth of the Gospel that had been twisted by Satan and believed by those in Hell.  Jesus “descended into Hell” in order for those who were there to finally hear and understand the truth of the Gospel message.
Not only did Jesus descended into Hell” but as Paul Harvey used to say, ‘here’s the rest of the story’ that we confess.  “[And] The third day He arose from the dead,”.  With this bold confession we lay claim to one of the great mysteries of our world and Christianity that Jesus Christ told His disciples would occur.  Three days after Jesus Christ death, watched by not only His followers, those in the city, but especially His family including His own mother Mary, Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
The storm that had surrounded the city of Jerusalem and captured the hearts and minds of the disciples and Jesus family on Good Friday wasn’t just a memory.  The events of Easter morning of the rolling away of the stone, the grave cloths being neatly folded, the angels sitting on the stone telling that Jesus is not here put not just an exclamation point, but a clear and pure joy in every Christians heart.  When we confess, [And] The third day He arose from the dead,” this acclamation turns the table on Satan’s little jig from Good Friday that he danced on Calvary thinking Jesus was dead forever.  On Easter Morning, Jesus no longer was bound, but risen from the dead.  Jesus was the victor over the grave!
But, what does our confession of this mean for us today.  For some, even other Christians and even some Lutherans, view our use of the Creed as a rote process, just something we as Lutheran’s have to do, with no meaning and no feeling.  Other churches here in Goodland and across our country and world don’t confess the Creed weekly.  Personally, I am saddened by this fact and reality.  For what the Apostle’s Creed clearly and simply does is not only encourage us weekly, but instead of it being rote, our confession of the Creed for me is a comfort.  Not only a comfort, but our confession of He descended into Hell.  [And] The third day He arose from the dead, is a battle cry.  And there is one day that this battle cry takes new meaning and adds the greatest value not only to our lives but our worship.
You see our confession becomes our ‘battle cry’ because of what we do here at Emmanuel on Easter Sunday.  If you look over the last few years, we have consistently sung about what we confess and have heard about today.  We sing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” and “Christ is Risen!  Alleluia” as a congregation, but even more poignant is what our choir sings.  We have sung a song inspired by our confession of He descended into Hell.  [And] The third day He arose from the dead,.  We sing the song entitled, “Christ Arose”.  So simple are the lyrics that begin with the darkness that surrounds the disciples of the storm that has raged, but so bold is the refrain and its confession not only with power and authority, but the clear and emphatic confession made that every time I hear it, my pulse quickens and my heart soars.  Listen to the refrain.
“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign; He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

You see Jesus Christ purpose was clear and purposeful to die on the Cross of Calvary in order that we might have eternal life.  When we boldly confess, the Apostle’s Creed we resonate, reaffirm and return to the truth found of what Jesus did on Easter morning.  This is our exclamation point that we boldly confess on Easter and every Sunday with the words of the Apostle’s Creed, He descended into Hell.  [And] The third day He arose from the dead,.  AMEN.

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