What exactly did Jesus do after he was buried and before he burst out of the grave on Easter Sunday?
He descended into the pit of Hell. He took back the keys of Death and Hell. He freed the people in Sheol (Hell) that had been awaiting the Messiah to come. I love the way the Douay-Rheims translation states it:
And alive, and was dead, and behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell.
1 Peter 3:18-20a says:
“That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God. He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn’t listen...”
There is a very interesting word sandwiched in there: proclaimed. The Greek word for "proclamation" which is kerusso, which means to herald or publish officially. It is different from the Greek word to evangelize, euaggelizo. By going to hell before his resurrection, Jesus' not only defeated death but rescued believers from the power of the devil.
... And, this is all after his Heavenly Father had forsaken [to renounce or turn away from entirely] him. Pause and think about that for a minute. Jesus loved YOU so much that he took all of the sins that ever were and would be done, upon himself, all along knowing that his Heavenly Father would not be able to even look on him or help him. 'Why,' you ask? Sin separates us from God.
Seeing that Jesus took all of the sins ONCE and FOR ALL, we are now promised that God will never leave us or forsake us - EVER!
"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never forsake you or abandon you." Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, [and] I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
Yes, Jesus loved us THAT much. He took upon himself all of our sins, and everyone's sins, past and present and future, and became a sacrifice for all of us now, in generations past and generations in the future. That is so much to wrap my mind around. AND on top of that, listen to this one. In Hebrews it is written about our new covenant with God. In chapter 8 and verse 12 it says, "For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more." WOW. Not only are we forgiven, He declares that He will not remember them!
Now Jesus has the keys of hell and death and it is time to free these captives that were waiting on him in Sheol, and take them to Heaven with him. Can you imagine the party that day in Heaven? The sounding of the trumpets? The dancing? The singing? And the Cherubim and Seraphim crying out to each other and all of Heaven, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." My eyes always leak whenever I even think of that day and the immense joy of all of these people being ushered before the throne of the Most High God!
And then... the third day is dawning.....