Death is Swallowed Up in Victory

At Easter, we especially think about Jesus’ resurrection, though it should always be front and center in our minds. As incredible as His incarnation was — the infinite God taking on the likeness of sinful flesh, not just human flesh, but fallen, sinful flesh… As incredible as His willing offering on the cross for sinful man was… the resurrection is the capstone of it all. The resurrection puts the final exclamation point on the declaration that God has stepped into human history and redeemed His people. The resurrection is a total game changer. Without it, we are hopeless.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! (1 Cor. 15:17) In His resurrection, Jesus makes all things new. He is doing the ‘new thing’ promised in Isaiah 43. He is undoing the curse of the Fall. And the final victory on our behalf is over death itself.

Death — that terror of terrors — holds no more power over us in Christ. In a sense, death has become our friend — because it is only in dying that we truly live. Jesus tells us — unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25) In a sense, our whole Christian life is a process of dying to self and sin and the world so that we can truly live. …always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor. 4: 10) Our life in this world is a constant putting to death of this old man who will not go quietly, and we feel weighted down by the body of this death that encumbers us (Rom. 7). 

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,  if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. (2 Cor. 5:1-4)

We do not long to be free from the body, but to be clothed in a better body, in immortality. So Death loses its terror and becomes our greatest victory — it takes us finally into the presence of God as perfect, whole people, at last free from all the struggles of this life. Our lifelong campaign to be rid of the Old Man that weighs us down is ended in an instant as we are clothed with immortality, freed at last from the ravages of sin, and ushered into a new life in the presence of God forever. The Enemy’s worst threat has become a sweet release from all our struggles. Jesus truly makes ALL things new — even death.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”    (1 Cor. 15:50-54)

Author: sylvhill

I am an almost life-long Christian, wife of a PCA elder, mother of three grown boys, a teacher of ESL, and a lover of the Bible and theology as it impacts real life.