Saturday, April 11

Resting Secure

Seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes, supplied by Nicodemus, were used in the initial wrapping and entombment of Jesus’ body. Because Sabbath began at nightfall there was not time to complete the job properly, which is why the women were headed to the tomb on the morning following the Sabbath. The antiseptic properties of myrrh would have slowed decay, which is what they were aiming for. Little did they realize this body was destined not to decay, ever.

But while the body lay in the tomb, what of Jesus’ soul? Peter tells us that the Christ, at some point after his death, engaged in a preaching mission by the Spirit to the spirits who had sinned before the flood ( 1 Peter 3:19-20 ). This information could get us caught up in the perplexing difficulties of understanding how the biblical worldview relates to ancient myths about Tartarus and Hades. There is no need for that.

What the Lord wants us to know is what he communicated to his disciples after the resurrection, when he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” ( Luke 24:45 ). We can be sure about at least one of the Scriptures Jesus focused on in that conversation, because Peter and Paul both made it central to their presentation of the Gospel:  Psalm 16:10 : “you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay (NIV).”

This verse teaches us about what we confess in the Apostles Creed, “he descended into hell.” “Hell” is how the King James Version translated “the realm of the dead” ( Sheol  in Hebrew,  Hades  in Greek). The beneficial understanding comes not from focusing on what the “realm of the dead” is,  per se , but the doctrine of Christ that is implied here. The Son of God assumed a full human nature, body and soul. Wherever human souls go after death, for better or worse, Jesus’ soul went there too. But he went by the Spirit of God. He brought light into that darkness. There is no place so deep and dark that Christ has not been there and claimed dominion over it.

This means Christ is always present now by his Spirit to all who are baptized in him, no matter their state of being, of mind or body. He brings his resurrection power to heal, redeem, justify, comfort and deliver. There is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8:38-39 ).

Pray the Psalm, then, with David, with Christ, with Christians through the ages: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:9-11).

Conversation Starters based on Psalm 16:9-11: 
•  Under what circumstances have you been able to feel that your body can “rest secure?”
•  What words or phrases in this passage is God bringing to your attention? What is He saying to you?

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