If Jesus is God and man, how can we make sense of his 3 days in hell?
Since Jesus is both God and a man, how can the death of Jesus (and his
experience in Hell) make sense? I understand that Jesus had to go there to
pay for ours sins but how can God be almighty and in Satan’s hand (even if
it is 3 days).
I will attempt to give an answer to your question, but you should bear in
mind that what God does may or may not fit with our concept of what would
make sense. In referring to the death of Jesus on the cross, Paul said;
For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the
cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where
is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish
the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through
its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the
foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1
Corinthians 1:19-21) Apparently, God does not go out of his way to do what
would make sense to us.
Anyway, getting back to your question, God chose, since the creation of
the world, to send his Son to suffer the penalty which our sins deserved.
Yes, it is true that for a temporary time Jesus was separated from God and
was in the hands of Satan. The Bible does not give a great amount of
detail about exactly and specifically what these three days (actually one
full day, plus parts of two others) when Jesus “descended into hell” were
like. In what sense was Jesus in Satan’s hands? This will require some
speculation, since the Bible does not answer the question directly. Did
Jesus obey Satan and serve him? This seems impossible. From his incredible
anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, one can definitely conclude that
Jesus suffered in some way during this time that was incredible. Was the
entire suffering caused by Jesus’ separation from God? Was Jesus actually
punished by some sort of pain or in some other way? Again, we can only
In the end what we are left with is that the Bible says that on the cross,
Jesus took on the sins of the whole world. God chose to leave the exact
details of what that specifically meant to Jesus out of the Bible. Yes,
this event is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us
who believe, it is the power of God for eternal life (to paraphrase 1
John Oakes, Ph.D.