The Sting of Death

Now that Paul has described the difference between our physical lives and our spiritual lives, he tells us about the wonder of God and the freedom we have in pursuing the spiritual.

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about 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 brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

As I read this passage, I think about what happens when we are baptized.  Granted, it is a physical representation of what has happened to us spiritually, but think about how we get to rise from the deadness of our flesh into a life of freedom in the spirit!  Paul points out in his letter to the Romans, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Paul calls this a mystery because it boggles the human mind.  We get to live without the sting of death?  We get to identify with Jesus and live like He did?  Seriously?  This is the power of what He did for us.

Imagine life with out pain, tears, or death.  Think about all the things in this world that we continue to build and “improve” only for it to decay and fall apart again.  Sometimes I wonder at magnificent buildings that have been built centuries ago.  I’m amazed at the craftsmanship of the builders and the years it took for them to accomplish what they did.  I think about the painstaking hours and the careful detail they put into every nook and cranny.  Then I look at how much disarray the building is in.  It is falling apart, the structure is cracking, animals (and sometimes humans) use it as a bathroom.  Then I look at ourselves, getting creakier and slower and fatter every year until we cannot move anymore and need to pay someone to take care of us.  One day none of this will happen!

The importance of resurrection (as Paul has been trying to explain) is linked to the very hope we have in Christ Jesus because it signifies that death, pain, and suffering is not all we have to look forward to.  It is just a process of strengthening and growing us through it until we break through to the other side!  Just as our bodies and life on this earth are temporary, so are the things that cause it to be so.  A common phrase today is, “There are two things certain in life: death and taxes.”  Jesus said to pay your taxes and not worry about death.  How do you see death?

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