I do not preach about Hell as much as some other pastors, though, because I believe that hellish experiences of pain, suffering, grief, and despair surround is in this world all on their own. There is little need for pastors to push more of these experiences on people through our preaching. Those in the pulpit do not need to lead parishioners into the realm of the dead since we mortals lose loved ones all the time. Preachers do not need to lead people to moments of anxiety, fear, or despair, since the world will bring us there anyway. Pastors do not need to shepherd people into the grip of the demonic in order for them to appreciate the hand of God in their life since evil will reach out to grab at us anyway. Whether we like it or not, sin, death, and the Devil are as much present and on the move in our contemporary world as in the ancient world that Jesus inhabited.
Yet, the good news that we celebrate again this Easter season is that the Son of God descended into Hell and was resurrected from it. He also knew what it was to lose. He also knew what it was to be tempted to be afraid, anxious, or despairing. He knew what it was to face down demons (literally). He experienced death like the rest of us will, one day or another. He took on these hellish experiences of pain, suffering, grief, despair, and death itself, so that he might save us from them all. He did all of this by dying, descending into Hell, and rising again on the third day – Easter Sunday.
With this profound truth in mind, we will shout again on Easter morning, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” He is risen from the worst, so that we may be resurrected with him to the best that is yet to come.