The Harrowing of Hell Introduction

The Last Saturday before Easter

 Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which he also went and preached to the spirits in prison, who before were disobedient… 1 Peter 3:18-20

Happy Harrowing of Hell!  Happy Harrowing?  Really?  The Harrowing of Hell commemorates when Jesus descended into Hell, or more accurately, Purgatory and freed those there.  Because Jesus saved us from our sins through His death, what about all the people who lived before that?  Is Moses in Hell?  He wasn’t saved from sin.  What about Noah?  Or Elijah?  What about John the Baptist who died before Jesus?  Is he in Hell?  Of course not!

The Harrowing of Hell is the time between His death (see Good Friday) and His Resurrection (see Easter) when He brought salvation to all of the dead – from the beginning of time until the end of it.  Jesus descended into the realm of the dead, which incidentally is Purgatory, not actually the Hell of the damned who reject salvation.  The original term was Hades as was used throughout the Bible, which was the realm of the dead.  But Hell is the term that was used in Middle English so that is the one we are stuck with.  So as I was saying, Jesus descended into the realm of the dead and delivered the salvation to them so that they would be free to go to Heaven.  Now since there is no time in the afterlife, rest assured they were not waiting for thousands of our years.  Eve and Adam were forgiven their sins just as we are forgiven ours.  And Heaven now awaits, for us, for those who came before and those who come after.

Quite awesome, really, when you think about it.

Harrowing of Hell Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for saving all our ancestors.  We appreciate everything that you have done for them and for us.  Help us to not doubt, and not to fear, and remember that You will go before us always.  Amen


Peace be with you.


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