1. When Jesus died on the cross he did not just "breathe his last" (which is also true), but he said "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and paredoken to pneuma literally meaning "He gave up the physical body," which the Holy Spirit had given him (Luke 1:35).
2. Together with the thief on the cross he immediately received his resurrection body now suited for heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-5, Philippians 1:23).
3. The Messiah's very first act was to "descend into Hades." Till that time the dead went down into sheol, the abode of the dead where they awaited their resurrection (Job 19:25-26, Psalm 49:14-15).
4. The purpose was to preach the good news to them (1 Peter 3:18-19). And Jesus looked forward to doing this "for the hour is coming when all who are in the graves (in sheol) will hear his voice" (John 5:28).
5. There was a division in that those who chose darkness and eternal death (John 3:19-21, 5:29b) were free to die eternally (as in Pinnock's conditional immortality).
6. Those who chose light and life were immediately released from sheol. In their excitement "After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many" (Matthew 27:53-54). And this happened when Jesus old body was still hanging on the cross.
7. Easter Sunday Jesus' resurrection became visible, and was demonstrated to the disciples. In that sense "He descended to the dead. The third day he rose again" (Apostles' Creed).
8. And the first thing the Messiah did early that morning was disintegrate the old body (dispose of the corpse, as we have to do) to prevent it becoming an object of veneration. By his description of what he and Peter saw in the tomb John made it clear that the body was disintegrated from within the linen grave clothes and the head cloth (John 20:6-8). They just fell to the ground as the body was disposed of (and of course never found).
9. The spear was driven into the corpse at least an hour after Jesus' death (John 19:31-34). So we wonder why John wants us to know about the gash in the risen Messiah's side (John 20:25-27)? The nail prints and the gash in the side of Jesus' resurrection body seem to be emblems (war medals) of his victory over crucifixion and death. In the Gospel John has already given the emblems of Word, Light, Bread, Shepherd, Vine. And in the Book of Revelation John will add other emblems such as those of Son of Man (Revelation 1:13, 14:14), Reigning Lord on his throne, Revelation 4:2), Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), Lamb (Revelation 5:6, 8, 12, 13, and 24 other references), Messiah (Revelation 11:15), Man child (Revelation 12:4-5), Kingly crowns, Revelation 19:12), Commander in Chief's sword, Revelation 19:15-16)
By essential nature the Messiah is the eternal son of God (5:17-23,
8:54-58), but the nail prints and spear gash, and other emblems (medals),
are the marks of many battles and much loving. They do not refer just to
the end times, but to the continuing work of the Messiah among the nations.