“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
I Corinthians 15:54-55 esv
Today we celebrate resurrection Sunday. More people will acknowledge this religious holiday than any other event second to Christmas. That includes the Superbowl and World Cup. For one day, more people will flock to churches for their spiritual pilgrimage. But what is so unique about Easter that causes so many people to celebrate.
While many people will make their way to a church as a religious obligation and potentially suffer through a 90 minute service, there is a serious reason for gathering together for worship on this day. Today, we celebrate the day when Christ conquered sin and death.
The greatest evil in this world is our sinful nature. Because of our sin we have earned our judgement. The doctrine of total depravity teaches us that we are all equally wretched. No one can be good on their own. Hitler is as good as Ghandi and Mother Theresa is as evil as Charles Manson. There is none righteous, no not one.
When Jesus Came and died on the cross, he became the substitutionally atonement for our sins. That means that He took the penalty for our sinfulness upon Himself, and with it, all the wrath of God toward our sins. That raised us to the level of purity that was necessary to receive God’s forgiveness, making us as pure as the first Adam and Eve.
But Jesus didn’t stay dead. If He had, we would have simply reverted back to our sinful ways and made His sacrifice worth nothing. We would have found the Tree of Life and defied God a second time. No, it wasn’t enough for Jesus to die. Three days later He arose. He not only paid for sin, he conquered it. Sin couldn’t hold Him in the grave. Death had no power over Him. And in His rising up, He gives us hope that we can rise up as well.
I’ve been meditating on I Corinthians 15:55 for several days now and I can’t get past how much power is compacted into those few words. It’s a spiritual taunting so to speak. We no longer have to fear death, we can mock it. Death’s sting is taken away by the cross. Death’s victory is lost because Christ has risen from the dead. Even if we are to die, we are assured that we will rise again to be with our LORD. We no longer have anything to fear.
Many people have been scared into heaven as a result of a fire and brimstone sermon. Others still have their doubts as to whether they are good enough to merit entrance. With as many people as there were in Church today, it is undoubtably true that most of them are not true believers. They come to church because they are afraid of death. They’re ashamed of their sins and they can only hope that God won’t notice how truly wicked their heart is. The beauty of this verse, however, shatters all of those fears. If we are found in Christ, we have only to fear what God fears. He has conquered sin and death. What are we afraid of?