The classroom topic for December spends a lot of time in the Old Testament as we consider salvation history and just a few of the ways that God has kept His promises to mankind. Starting with Adam and Eve and on through Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David, the lesson goes through a brief recap of each story with an emphasis on God’s promises and His movement through history (in a big picture way) as He puts all the pieces into place for the coming of our Redeemer.
This piece, by Fra Angelico, is called Christ in Limbo, shows Him fulfilling a promise to all of those Old Testament patriarchs shortly after His crucifixion, and might be a good addition to that section of your lesson.
In the Apostles’ Creed we say:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.
What the Creed labels as “hell” comes from the teaching that all who had died up to that point in history were deprived of the vision of God. Think about it – before the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, there was no way for people to be saved. The “bridge” had not yet been built for them to get to heaven. Through the saving work of Jesus, all the promises were fulfilled and the path was made for us to follow Him!
A few details to call to your students’ attention:
- These people are being led out of a very dark place. (Again, deprived of the vision of God)
- The people pictured here all have halos indicating that they lived righteous lives, trusting in God. The hands that we see are either in a position of prayer or are reaching out to Jesus. They all welcome His presence and are ready to follow Him. It’s worth noting that the Church teaches that all of the dead, evil and righteous, were in this place awaiting the judgment of Christ. The artist has just chosen to picture this welcoming scene.
- The victory is complete. The demons pictured are not resisting in any way. Just as the righteous recognize the power of Jesus, so do the damned.
Thanks to The Web Gallery of Art for use of the image!