F.F. BRUCE: WHERE IS JESUS?
“One may picture a military leader returning to Jerusalem at the head of His followers, after routing an enemy army and taking many prisoners. The victorious procession, with the captives in the train, makes its way up the temple mount, preceded by the sacred ark, which symbolizes the invisible presence of the God of Israel… Here Christ is the subject: it is He who ascended. The expression ‘He ascended’ is seen to imply that He first ‘descended’… this phrase, ‘the lower part of the earth,’ has traditionally been interpreted as the abode of the dead… the idea that between His death and resurrection Christ invaded the abode of the dead and released the men and women of God who, from Adam onward, had been held fast there, thus ‘leading captivity captive’… it is emphasized that the One who gave the gifts is the One who ascended: it is because He ascended that He has given them.”
Where is Jesus today on Holy Week Saturday? He’s not dead. He’s working. He’s leading captivity captive and delivering imprisoned spirits (see Ephesians 4:7-13; 1 Peter 3:18-22)! The spirits of those who died before this time were held captive and awaiting release. On Easter Saturday, Jesus set them free. He defeated death. And, as result of this faithful work, He gets to bestow gifts to the Church–apostles and prophets, pastors and teachers–to equip the saints for works for service. He worked and has gifted people to work and make know the way to life.
Let us give thanks for the faithfulness of Jesus who did this work, and for His generosity in giving gifts to the Church to unite and equip us. We are free. Will we do our part? It’s time to get to work!
Gary G. Hoag