A Sermon by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
“Who wills everyone to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).
God wants that all men be saved, that is why He descended into Hades to save those who lived on earth before His coming. For, had He not descended into Hades, an enormous number of righteous souls would have perished forever. And yet, had He not descended into Hades, the main habitat of evil against God and the human race, Hades would have remained undestroyed. Therefore, the two reasons which motivated Christ, the Giver-of-Life, to descend into Hades in the Spirit are: First, to destroy the nest of the powers of Hades and, Second, to bring from Hades to Heaven, the souls of ancestors, prophets and righteous men and women, who have fulfilled the Old Dispensation (The Old Law of God) and, by that, pleased God. Before Satan was totally jubilant at gazing upon Christ humiliated and lifeless on the Cross, Christ appeared alive and almighty in the midst of Hades, the primary abode of Satan. What unexpected and dreadful news for Satan! For three years Satan wove snares against Christ on earth and in three days, behold, Christ destroyed Satan’s kingdom and carried away the most precious booty in the form of a swarm of righteous souls.
O Lord, You want that all men be saved. We pray to You, save even us. For there is no salvation nor Savior outside of You. In You do we hope, You alone do we worship, You, the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen.
Below are links to three articles of interest regarding the Lord’s descent into Hades:
1. The Lord’s Descent Into the Underworld, Homily by St. Epiphanios of Salamis
2. Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent of Christ into Hades in Eastern and Western Theological Traditions, by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev
3. “Anastasis” Icon, Text, And Theological Vision, by Lawrence Cross, Birute Arendarcikas, Brendan Cooke, Joseph Leach