Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
~1 Corinthians 15:51–55
If the message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection mean anything, it’s this: in Jesus, death has died.
The one power that has held sway over every single human being since the beginning of time has now been completely routed in Jesus. There is no final victory of death over the believer.
So why do we have such respect and fear of death? Why do we lavish such honor upon it at our funerals and memorial services? We speak in low voices or don’t know what to say at all in the presence of it. We think it so final and so decisive that we use the word “death” to mean the ultimate end of things.
This shouldn’t be. For the believer in Jesus, death is a defeated enemy. No, it’s not a friend or “a natural part of life,” it’s always an enemy, but one that’s been utterly overpowered by Jesus’ resurrection. We certainly recoil at its threat and the ways it can come to us, and we clearly suffer when our loved ones are taken by it, but it’s not the final word or the greatest power over us. Its victory and sting have been neutralized.
This is true not only in the personal, physical realm (death of the body), but it’s also true in the realm of our professions, broken relationships, and life dreams.
Our jobs can be lost, our careers can take a downward turn, our dreams may come crashing down in a single afternoon, but there is nothing that can be lost in this world that is beyond recovery.
If our very bodies can be brought back to life (even greater life than before), then the lesser things of life are equally open to restoration and transformation.
This is the hope that is available now, in this present life, to the believer in Jesus.
And, fortunately, it is something that God demonstrates in the nitty-gritty of our daily lives. It’s all the “little resurrections” (the rescues, healings, and answers to prayer) that give us a solid reason to expect a great resurrection at the end.
This Easter, let us move forward in joy and utmost confidence knowing “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Lord God, reveal to me the true meaning of the resurrection, and may its power fill me with your hope and everlasting joy, I pray in the strong name of the resurrected Christ, Amen.