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In August, 2020 a 51-year-old Ukrainian woman was arrested for trying to break her son out of prison. The unnamed woman rented a house near the jail in the southern Zaporizhia region where her son is serving a life sentence for murder. She and her son are from Mykolaiv, a five-hour drive from the bleak penal colony. 

Then, working only at night, the mother began digging a tunnel from a nearby field, heading in the direction of the prison wall.  First, she dug to a depth of ten feet.  Then, she began to tunnel toward the prison. All of this digging was done by hand, using only two small shovels, a small pick, and an axe. She also made a small trolley from of a piece of plywood with wheels and used it to move the dirt from the tunnel.  Then she used buckets to haul the dirt out of the hole. She dumped all the dirt (three tons worth) behind an abandoned garage.  

Each night she’d travel to the dig site in a silent, electric motor scooter. Before sunup she’d stop work and travel back home and sleep during the day. The loving mom tunneled for 35 feet and had just reached the prison wall when she was caught. When police inspected the tunnel, they were very impressed and assumed she must have once worked as a miner. 

Despite breaking the law, the town locals showered the woman with praise.  “This mother prepared thoroughly. Perhaps she’s a miner’s daughter,” said one resident.  “To dig three meters deep would be hard enough. She had no excavator or anything of the kind,” another person commented. “This is a real mother – not one of those who abandons their children,” said another. Sadly, it looks as though the caring mom will be spending some time in jail herself. 

When I read about this desperate mom it reminded me of the lengths to which Jesus went through to deliver us “from the domain of darkness” and bring us into His own kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Only God knows the depths to which Jesus went to redeem us.  Our Apostles’ Creed tells us that Jesus “descended into hades” to rescue us. And there are numerous Scriptures in the Bible to back up that claim (e.g. Luke 11:21-22; Acts 2:31; Ephesians 4:8-9; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6).   

Admittedly, the phrase in the Apostles’ Creed, “He descended into hades” is disputed among theologians. But one thing is clear. Jesus endured both the judgments of God and the wrath of God which should have fallen on us. This is why the New Testament writers referred to Jesus as God’s propitiation (Greek hilasterion, hilasmos) or satisfaction for our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).  In other words, Jesus is the sacrifice that fully and forever satisfies God’s justice and quenches His wrath. To accomplish this, Jesus had to have been judged in our place. Thus, Jesus had to suffer the equivalent of eternity in the lake of fire for multiplied billions of guilty sinners. Only because of His deity could He accomplish it in the three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection. 

The extent of Christ’s suffering was portrayed by every burnt offering of the OT that was consumed in flames. Note how God told Moses not to boil the Passover lamb or to eat its flesh raw, but rather to roast it with fire (Exodus 12:8-9). The flames of the altar pictured the wrath of God. Note John the Baptist’s words, “Christ will gather the grain into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). So, in a real sense, Jesus did descend into the fires of hell to save us. 

And consider this, just as the son of this woman did not deserve her love or labors on his behalf – he was a murderer, neither do we merit anything of what Jesus did for us. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:6-8, When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

That desperate mom failed in her quest to save her son. But Jesus never fails. He didn’t fail at the cross, in Hades, or from rising triumphantly from the tomb. He will never fail to keep us from stumbling through all the storms of life and then present us blameless in heaven before His glorious presence with great joy (Jude 24-25). 


PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for enduring the fires of Hell to redeem me from Satan’s power and destruction. Please, dear Lord, grant that I will never neglect so great a salvation nor outlive my love for so great a Savior. Open my eyes to the depths You descended and the agony You endured for my sake. Strengthen, dear Lord, my faith in You and my commitment to You. Amen. 


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