By Dr. Paul Henebury
Veritas School of Theology
Q. I’m interested in your answer to the following: If one believes that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, and if the wages of sin is eternal, conscience torment, why is Jesus in Heaven, and not in Hell?
A. Thank you for the question.
The answer is that although Jesus "bore our sins on the Cross" He was not Himself a sinner. Our sins were imputed to Him (and His righteousness to all who believe) by the juridical process whereby He willingly became like us, yet without sin (see Hebrews 1:1-3; 2:9; 4:15). As He was not a sinner and was appointed by the Judge to be our sin-substitute (Romans 3:25-26), He could die (the wages of sin), and yet Himself be qualified to be raised to life. So Jesus could carry our punishment to death, yet not be captive to death, but, rather, be the precursor of those who will be raised from the dead (Romans 6:5-10).
As you may be aware, the question as to whether Jesus went to Hell during the period between His death and resurrection is disputed by theologians. I tend to think He did (although this involves some nuancing with an understanding of the Greek term hades). The fact remains, though, that He did take our place and that because He was raised from the dead, those "in Him" (believers in the gospel) are promised eternal life in eternal bodies in the eschaton (1 Corinthians 15).
I hope this helps.
Is Hades Synonymous with Hell? - SpiritandTruth.org (Tony Garland)
Studies in Eschatology - SpiritandTruth.org (Paul Henebury)
Did Jesus go to hell between His death and resurrection? - GotQuestions.org
Death Through Adam; Life Through Christ - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
Christ Our Substitute - Institute for Creation Research (Henry Morris)