Text: 1 Corinthians 15:19-28
Death is an enemy.
On occasion death can be a relative good. When the quality of life, for example, is significantly diminished and there is unbearable pain, we might think dying is better than living—but only in a relative sense. Life is better than death since God created life but not death.
But death, the enemy, reigns. We are powerless before it. We cannot control it. We have no authority over it. Death comes when it wills. We may be able to delay it, but it still comes.
Indeed, death has a long history. It goes back to Adam (and Eve). Though shalom (peace) once ruled a world in which God delighted and rested, sin vandalized the goodness of creation and death assumed its dictatorship. Death was an alien invader in the world God created. Chaos now reigns through death. In Adam all die.
Without hope death gives way to despair. But God has a plan. Christ is God’s response to Adam; resurrection is God’s answer to death. God does not intend for his creation, including our bodies, to disappear into nothingness. God will raise our bodies from the dead in order to live fully in the renewed creation, the new heaven and new earth.
God has a plan, and it is Jesus the Messiah. Jesus was not only human—authentically human in every way, but he is the new human through his resurrection. He is the first of a new humanity, one that will live forever on a renewed earth. His resurrection promises a future humanity. In Christ all are made alive.
Jesus is the first of a coming harvest. Jesus is the first fruit of the harvest; there is more to come. The resurrection of Jesus belongs to the future but occurred in the past as a prediction of the future.
The resurrection of Jesus is a preview of coming attractions. But this preview does not leave us wondering what the end of the drama will be. Instead, in the resurrection of Jesus, we see death destroyed.
The resurrection of Jesus is the power of God that destroys all authority, power and dominion. Death no longer reigns, but Jesus. The Empire no longer wields power, but the kingdom of God. Satan no longer holds the keys of Hades (death) but the living Christ does.
Death is the last enemy and it will not last. Death will not win. This is what we celebrate every Sunday, and this what we celebrate on Easter. God has given us hope in this life and through the resurrection God will give us life after death—not just life “in heaven” after death, but life after life after death in the new heaven and new earth.
God will not abandon his loved ones in the grave. Life wins. Death loses.
- Is death an enemy? In what sense?
- Identify the contrasts that appear in 1 Corinthians 15:19-28. What do they tell you about our hope?
- What does it mean to say that Jesus is the “first fruits” of the coming harvest?
- How has hope shaped your life? What difference has it made? In what way have you experienced hope in the face of death?