Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hell was Split Wide Open

And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.  And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.  And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.   -Mark 15:37-39 (KJV) 

I recall when I was little boy overhearing a conversation between two adults regarding the behavior of a certain individual who was known for having a bad reputation.  “One day,” one of them said, “he is going to split hell wide open.”  This imagery captivated my young imagination.  Children always take symbolic imagery in the most literal terms possible, so I kept trying to get a picture in my mind of a person crashing into hell and literally blowing it apart.  Such a scene is indeed too much for a child to grasp, so I eventually abandoned any attempt at understanding such metaphors and moved on to more pleasant thoughts.  Yet even today I still find myself attempting to attain a mental picture of this dramatic scene; hell was split wide open. 

The Scripture says the Lord Jesus died upon the cross of Calvary and in so doing bore upon His body the sins of humanity.  When Jesus died hell was split wide open, yet in this instance the term is positive and conveys Christ’s victory over this terrible place of everlasting torment.  No longer would sin, death, hell, and the grave have the final say so over the souls of the world.  The sin which separated us from God and kept us from His presence had been paid for once and for all through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Do not expect everyone to comprehend the grace shown to an angry, bitter, and hostile world.  Those without the Spirit of God cannot comprehend the measure of love and compassion demonstrated through this supreme act of devotion and self-sacrifice.   

The soldier in combat whose comrade throws himself on a live grenade to save others will see a form of it.  The one who steps in front of an assailant and takes a bullet for another person demonstrates a similar attitude.  Yet Christ’s sacrifice reigns supreme, for His was done on behalf of all people for all time.  Even today we may come to Him in faith and find salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.  The most hopeless outlook will be transformed through the power of Jesus Christ.  We need not surrender, for Christ has won the victory on our behalf.  Since hell has been defeated, we now have the promise of heaven and a happier day right now. 

Do not allow your present dark circumstances rob you of the joy we have in Christ.  The world waited as Christ lay lifeless in the tomb, yet on the third day He arose.  In Him we have life, spiritual power, and hope of a brighter tomorrow.  Resurrection day is coming!

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