From Daniel Clendenin:
The earliest believers interpreted the life and death of Jesus in different ways — as substitute and sacrifice, ransom and reconciliation, adoption and example. But pride of place goes to what’s called “Christus Victor,” another ancient view that was reinvigorated by the modern Swedish theologian Gustav Aulén (d. 1977) — that in his life, death and resurrection Jesus conquered the powers of sin, death, and evil that enslave us.
The apostle Paul says as much. Jesus “destroyed death” (2 Timothy 1:10), our “last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). He “disarmed the powers and authorities, and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). Jesus “tasted death for every one,” and “through death he rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:9,14). And so the paradox, that by death Jesus conquered death.
C.S. Lewis called this the “deeper magic before the dawn of time.” This deeper magic, says Mark Heim, “comes into this [Narnia] story as an unexpected development, something about which the evil powers knew nothing. And when Aslan rises, the ancient stone altar on which the sacrifice was offered cracks and crumbles in pieces, never to be used again. The gospel, then, is not ultimately about the exchange of victims, but about ending the bloodshed.”…
And so every Sunday, and especially Easter Sunday, we confess the Apostles’ Creed: “Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, he was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead.” The harrowing of hell on Holy Saturday, after Friday’s crucifixion and before Sunday’s resurrection, is the most important day in salvation history that we rarely mention.
This isn’t Plato’s immortality of an immaterial soul; it’s the resurrection of your body.
Nor is this some private benefit. Isaiah 65 imagines a new heaven and new earth. Paul says that God in Christ will “reconcile to himself all things, having made peace through the blood of his cross, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). He will “sum up” or “bring together” “all things in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).