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God’s Word for You

Colossians 2:15 a public spectacle

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, April 27, 2019

15 He disarmed the supernatural authorities and spiritual powers and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by it.

“It” is the cross from verse 14. What Paul is describing here is the event we call the Descent into Hell. This happened on Easter Sunday morning, after Jesus came to life once again in the grave. After he “was made alive” (1 Peter 3:18), he “went and preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19). Peter explains this event from the point of view of the souls of condemned human beings “who disobeyed long ago” (1 Peter 3:20). Paul focuses his attention on the other residents of hell, the fallen angels whom we often refer to as the demons. These are the “supernatural authorities” and “spiritual powers” who were met there in their prison by the risen Christ. He did not go there to suffer. He had already done that on the cross. He went there to have a one-man victory parade.

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to visualize the scene on that brilliant, glorious morning. Hell is the place where God’s love and mercy are never present. Therefore, when Christ went there, it was not with love or mercy in his gaze, but victory and triumph. Asaph described something like it when he said, “They will perish from your rebuking look” (Psalm 80:16).

In ancient times, a victorious general would lead his vanquished foe behind him in a parade through the streets of his home city. The people would cheer and sing and throw flowers toward him. To the one in chains it was “the smell of death” (2 Corinthians 2:16). Here in hell, Jesus had no such need of a parade, nor was he in danger of any kind at all. He was in prison, but as the Jailer. Everyone else there was and still is a prisoner, right down to the devil himself. Hell is his prison, not his kingdom. He has no kingdom any longer, because Christ won the victory over sin, over death, and even over the power of the devil.

Therefore Christ’s descent into hell and his proclamation of victory needed to be nothing more than a walk, the walk of Christ through that pit of suffering and fear. His look was enough to terrorize. His voice silenced them all. The mere sound of his footsteps in the distance was enough to strike fear and knowledge of defeat into every condemned spirit there. It was no different than “the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). What made Adam and Eve run and hide made the devil scurry like the roach that he is (with apologies to roaches everywhere) and try to hide, as if anyone can hide from the victorious Christ.

The Lord God called out to Satan, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you walking even here and I was afraid, so I hid.”

“Cursed are you above all the spirits and demons, all authorities and powers! I have crushed your head even as you tried to strike my heel. Your reign is ended.”

And as the Lord God Jesus Christ ascended from hell once again to touch the earth, the devil and all his angels shrieked in agony and then fell silent, and the silence that day was the silence that will stop their mouths in hell for all eternity after the final judgment takes place, and the books are shut forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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