Death Is Swallowed Up
This past week was one that for me was filled with reminders of death. I was at the funeral home for a 2-week old infant, as well as a 92-year old woman. In addition, as most of us know, Kristy Scott passed away after a long ordeal with cancer. These occasions have given me reason to dwell on the ideas contained in 1 Corinthians 15. In that great chapter Paul affirms that the single most important tenant of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Christ. This miraculous occurrence was corroborated by many credible witnesses. It seems that some Corinthians had begun to doubt the event though. Paul goes on to explain the importance of the doctrine and to answer a few questions about our own resurrection. Towards the end of the chapter there is a quote from the old testament which I want to focus on in this week’s article.Consider 1 Corinthians 15:55-57…
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we consider the role that death plays in this world it can almost seem like death is the winner. Since Abel, death has taken everyone (except Enoch and Elijah) regardless of age, class, wealth, profession, etc. Sometimes people seem to bring it on themselves with bad choices and dangerous lifestyles but other times it strikes the healthy without warning. Without God’s intervention it would be the clear victor in this life. Jesus changed everything.
In this great chapter Paul makes it clear that Christ’s resurrection was just the start of many good things to come. He is called the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:23). The first ripe fruit on a plant is the sign that much more will be coming. He came out of the grave so we can too. One may ask then, “Why are people still dying?” The text goes on to answer that Jesus is reigning in this world until the final enemy, death, is abolished (15:24-26). Death may come to all of us but that doesn’t mean it is the winner. We often use language like “someone finally lost their battle with cancer.” While from a certain point of view it may seem correct, for the faithful Christian it simply isn’t the case. Cancer can’t win when we won’t stay dead! Jesus beat death first so that we can beat our death too through His power! Thanks be to God for this marvelous gift.
So to wrap up what I’m trying to say, it is totally appropriate to mourn when friends and loved ones die. However, for the Christian who dies we can also have hope, joy, and peace knowing that death is not forever. As we deal with losing loved we also ought to be reminded to live the kind of life that will give us a hope of the resurrection as well. For those sinning, stop it (15:34). For those working hard, don’t give up and keep going strong until the end (15:58). He conquered death and we can too.