And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death(s). (Isaiah 53:9)
The Hebrew word for death in this verse is plural, and should be rendered “deaths.” Jesus died twice on the cross.
Jesus’ physical sufferings and death, as gruesome and as horrible as they were, did not touch our sin problem. His physical death was only a means to an end. Jesus had to endure our spiritual death too.
Jesus cried out on the cross as the Father turned away. Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27: 45-46). Jesus literally became our spiritual death. Yes, Jesus died spiritually. He had to in order to bear our sin penalty. The Father made Him who knew no personal sin of His own to become our sin.
Sin is deeper than the physical body. Sin is a nature called spiritual death. Spiritual death is spiritual separation from God. If sin was only a physical condition, then perhaps Jesus physical sufferings could suffice to cleanse it. But because sin is a spiritual condition, then Jesus must bear our sins spiritually, which means He must die spiritually, just like you and me before the New Birth.
Jesus’ Spirit became separated from the Father on the cross. That’s spiritual death. Then he died physically. When Jesus’ Spirit left His body He then went to hell to spiritually pay our sin debt. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40). For David says concerning Him: I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Acts 2:25-27).
When God’s justice was satisfied that Jesus legally paid our sin penalty, Jesus was literally born again in hell. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18). His Spirit became alive unto God once again. He became the first human to ever experience the New Birth. He became the head of a brand new race of men. The New Creation man! That’s the reason Colossians 1 says that Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. He was not only resurrected from physical death. But before the resurrection, He was raised from spiritual death when the Spirit of God came upon Him there in the dark regions of the damned after He paid our sin penalty.
Thank God that Jesus bore our sin and its penalty so we can be spiritually free! Thank God that Jesus allowed Himself to be separated from God so that we could draw near to Him. Thank God that Jesus allowed Himself to become our sin so that we could become righteous and sin free in the presence of God. He became what we are, so that we could become what He is! And now, as He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17).