Today's Foundations Devotional: Between death and resurrection

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Memory verse:

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become

the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

(1 Corinthians 15:20)

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Hitherto, the facts which we have gleaned from Scripture concerning the destiny of departed spirits all deal with events that transpired prior to the death and resurrection of Christ. We shall now go on to see what the Bible reveals about the experience of Christ Himself during the period between His death and resurrection.

The first passage we shall consider is a prophetic anticipation of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:8-11).

In Acts 2:25-28 Peter quotes these verses in full. In Acts 13:35 Paul quotes one of these verses. Both Peter and Paul alike interpret these words as a direct prophecy of the burial and resurrection of Christ. Peter points out that, though these words were spoken by David, they do not apply to David because David’s soul was left for many centuries in Sheol and his body suffered the process of corruption. Therefore this is one of many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, spoken by David, yet referring not to David himself but to David’s promised seed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Applied in this way to Christ, these words of David in Psalm 16 reveal two things that transpired at the death of Christ. First, His body was laid in the tomb but did not suffer any process of corruption. Second, His spirit descended into Sheol (the place of departed spirits) but did not remain there for longer than the period between His death and His resurrection.

This Old Testament revelation is confirmed by the more detailed revelation of the New Testament. Jesus said to the penitent thief beside Him on the cross:

Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43).

The word paradise means literally “a garden” and is one of the names given to that place in the next world which is reserved for the departed spirits of the righteous.

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commend My spirit.’” And having said this, He breathed His last (Luke 23:46).

By the words “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit,” we understand that Jesus here committed the destiny of His spirit at death into the hands of His heavenly Father. His body, He knew, was to be laid aside in the tomb; but the destiny of His spirit was to be decided by God, His Father.

In all this we see that Jesus, having taken upon Himself, in addition to His divine nature, the nature of humanity, passed through the same experiences that await each human soul at death. His body was committed to the tomb in burial, by the hands of men; but His spirit was committed into the hands of God, and its destiny was settled by the sentence of God.

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Prayer:

Father, I find it very special that Your Son, our Lord Jesus, has

literally gone the same way that we as human beings will go in

death. And what a mercy and privilege it is that because of the

way He has gone, we as people in Him may also participate in His

resurrection. Hallelujah!

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