Death is swallowed in victory
by Marlin Caddell
March 30, 2016
1 Corinthians 15:1-20,50-58: 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
How can we be a people who look death in the face and say, “O death, where is your sting?” How can we be a people that can look at death and say, “O death, where is your victory?”
The only reason we can look at death this way is because Christ has risen from the dead, and He lives today.
It’s so easy to gloss over this phrase, “Christ is risen from the dead.” But hear this: Jesus stands in contrast to every human who has ever lived. Everyone dies. Since the Fall in Genesis (when Adam and Eve rebelled against God), death has been the Great Enemy. What Jesus has done is the most momentous event in all of history.
The resurrection of Jesus forces everyone to make a decision about what to do with Him. 1 Corinthians 15:19 puts the point on this: If Jesus is not risen from the dead, our faith is in vain and we should be pitied by everyone for following something so foolish.
Again, we only have two choices: Either we are fools of the worst kind or Jesus has conquered over death, making Him Lord over all creation. If Jesus is Lord, this demands our very lives.
Paul writes that Jesus DID rise from the dead. Our faith is not in vain. Jesus is alive. This isn’t some fairytale promise; it is rock-solid truth.
Paul connects this to us: If Jesus conquered death, when we trust in His work and His forgiveness for our sins, Jesus conquers death for us too. When we trust in Christ, we will NEVER truly die. Death has no hold on us because of Jesus!
That’s why when we see loved ones who have trusted in Christ die, we both grieve and rejoice. We grieve our separation but rejoice that death will never have the last word. Jesus got the last word on Easter Sunday.
Death is swallowed up in victory. All glory to God!