“9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)” Eph. 4:9-10
The key phrase in this particular scripture is “he also descended first”.
I remember a brother who used to say, “You cannot deal with No.2 before dealing with No. 1. First is first.” The brother’s words stuck to my mind, they were so graphic.
Now here the Bible says that before He ascended to Heaven, Jesus first descended into the lower parts of the earth. That ought to grab our attention.
In other words, before we deal with Jesus’s ascent, we will need to consider His descent first.
Actually, it is so humbling that the Lord of all the earth would need to descend! But He did.
Many believers, when they read this scripture, idolize the notion that Christ crashed physically into hell, Rambo-like, and grabbed the keys from the devil as the latter stood quaking with fear at the sight of Jesus’ rippling muscles.
But no, it did not work like that. In fact, Jesus did not have Rambo’s muscles for the precise reason that they were not needed in this particular warfare. Actually, it was in weakness that Jesus won the victory. Ephesians 4:9-10 provides us with the details of exactly how things worked out on that day. The Bible says that Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth. ‘Descending’ here does not talk of something physical that Jesus did, like crashing bodily into hell, or going down into the depths of the earth the way one goes down a mine shaft. On the contrary, ‘descending’ here talks of losing. It was after He lost something in the flesh that Jesus gained the ascendancy over the devil in the spirit. Notice the Bible says, “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens”. Christ was willing to lose, and it was in losing that He ‘crashed’, if you will, into hell and took all power from the devil.
Philippians 2:7-8 says, “7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
In other words, Jesus sank and sank. He kept on sinking until He became nothing.
Too many of us need to lose. In particular, we need to lose our pride. Our pride is that old self, the flesh. It is that thing in us that does not like being touched, or talked back to, or criticised or belittled in any way. That is the old man, and it is he whom we need to lose.
The new man that is made after the image of Christ allows himself to be insulted, to lose what is rightfully theirs. This new man will even gladly surrender their life for the sake of Christ.
The Apostle Paul says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth…” (Col. 3:5). It is through the cross alone that we can crucify these lusts of the flesh.
There are many interpretations about what victory in Christ means… or what obedience to God means. But true victory and true obedience simply have to do with losing with Christ – losing the flesh and its lusts – that we might gain with Him.
[Below: Jesus had to go down first before He would go up!]