We call it 3 days, but it really may have been as little as 38 hours – from 3 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. Sunday.
Regardless, for 38 hours, Jesus was silent. His body lay in a tomb. All hope appeared to be lost.
The stone was rolled; the tomb was sealed and guarded.
Except, Jesus wasn’t silent. At least, according to 1 Peter 3:18; “…He went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison…” This is where we get the line in our oldest creed that says, “He descended into hell.” (Side note: there is SO much that is obscure about this. So, I’m going to focus on what we know.)
Jesus had good news to proclaim. He proclaimed His authority to enter the realm of the dead and rip death’s door off its hinges for God’s people who die. That’s a fantastic promise, so much so that the New Testament talks about those who die as being “asleep with the Lord.”
The focus is not on a location but on a proximity: the presence of Jesus. It’s the same promise Jesus made to the thief on the cross who pled for mercy: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
God had been silent before, for much longer. There is thought to have been an approximately 400 year period between the conclusion of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament when God did not speak through His prophets, and no books of Scripture were added to the Law, Prophets, and Writings (Old Testament books).
Both times of silence give me the same encouragement.
For 400 years, God was silent, and when He spoke it was to announce the birth of the Savior, the central figure of history.
For 38 hours, God was silent, and when Jesus spoke it was to announce His victory over sin, death and Satan.
Sometimes God seems silent. Inactive. Sometimes it feels like He has forgotten.
Trust me when I say this (and I’m speaking to remind myself, too): God has not forgotten you.
He hears your cries. He hears your groans. He feels your pain. He sees your tears. He knows your heartache. He cares.
And when He acts – in His timing – it very well might blow you away.
When God is silent, it doesn’t mean He’s asleep. It may just mean He’s getting ready to do something amazing.