When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
– 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
It’s been a powerful week in the life of our congregation at New Life, and a striking illustration of the power of Easter for all who believe. I’ve been to two viewings this week, Gwynne to a third, and many from our congregation even a fourth. I’ve stood next to caskets and looked at the bodies of men who were once full of life. I’ve been reminded of the reality that when the soul departs a body, there is no doubt that something is missing.
As I sit and reflect over this experience, the reality that today is Easter has brought to mind the question of resurrection. What if these persons would have suddenly had life rush back into their bodies, and to the astonishment of their mourning friends and families there they sat, full of life and vigor again. What sort of shock would that bring about? Would the news spread all over the internet? Would there be books and news stories about it, or would the families rejoice in the return of their loved one to life and the chance at more precious days together without the rest of the world taking much notice?
We read of families in the Old and New Testament witnessing such occurrences of God’s power, but we are never given the impression that something has happened that would change all of the world’s history forever. Until it happens to Jesus.
In Jesus, something new has happened. Jesus, unlike those before him, was given the unfathomable gift of the incorruptible body. The body that will not decay. The body that will not get sick or age, wear down or get weak. It is the body that can experience the holiness of God and remain. Jesus’ resurrection is THAT sort of resurrection, and while he’s the first he will not be the last. Easter is a beginning. Paul describes it as the first fruit of the promise that all believers share. And it is in this reality that we can ask, “O death where is your victory?”
One day, Jesus will appear and all those who are dead will rise to new, imperishable bodies. Those bodies that family members have wept over, and long to see full of life once more will be remade by the very hand of the Father into something that will last. We can have faith that the Father will do it because he did it to Jesus – despite the brutal, dehumanizing way that he died – his body was remade; whole, imperishable, ever lasting. For those who are in Christ, we will share in that experience of a resurrection body, and when we rise all of heaven and earth will see that cancer didn’t really win, and heart conditions really didn’t win, old age and war, violence and hate, none of it was truly able to forever snuff out God’s creation. This is the hope of everyone who accepts God’s gracious gift of Christ Jesus – as I found out my nephew Grant did today! – and brothers and sisters it is the hope that leads to life everlasting.
Today is Easter, and He has risen from the dead! Hallelujah!