“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Death Destroyed by Death, Death is Swallowed up in Victory (Romans 3:23, 1 Corinthians 15:54-56)

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26

“I am the resurrection and the life.” – Jesus, John 11:25
We saw earlier how the wages of sin were paid, and the sin that divided man from God overcome. Paul writes that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; death is the just effect of man’s original sin) and that “the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). That is, since death is the effect of sin, death depends on sin for its power. So when Christ’s death paid the full and final price for sins and satisfied the demands of the law (see “Atonement,” Hebrews 10:12, 9:15), he stripped death of its sting – it’s as if Christ ripped Death’s fangs out in the act of dying (Colossians 2:15). Death was destroyed by death. We arrive at this beautiful paradox simply by combining Paul’s two powerful statements, just cited. Death couldn’t handle Christ – the evil one couldn’t overcome God’s deeper wisdom and greater power (1 Corinthians 1:23-24) to bring victory out of the cross.
“‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where 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 victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

“[Christ] partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death.” – Hebrews 2:14

“God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” – Acts 2:24

“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” – Colossians 2:15

“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
And thus it was that on the third day Jesus Christ the Son of God rose from the dead, bursting forth in triumph and glory and shining his light on all creation. The Son has risen, and he rose because his death had defeated Death. This is the power behind the resurrection which compelled the apostle Paul (Ephesians 1:19-20, Philippians 3:10), and it is rooted ultimately in God’s character, in his sacrificial love and commitment to justice and to his own holiness. With infinite wisdom God designed the cross, revealed himself more than he could have any other way, atoned for our sin, defeated death, and destroyed evil finally and completely. It is finished. God has suffered. The price has been paid. Death is defeated. The Son has risen.

2 comments:

  1. You might find this Homily interesting in regards to the Resurrection. Written by St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century as a sermon for Easter (Pascha).

    If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

    If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

    If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.

    If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.

    Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!

    Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

    Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

    Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

    Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.

    He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

    It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

    "O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?"

    Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

    Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

    Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

    Christ is risen, and life reigns!

    Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

    For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.

    To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

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  2. "It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen"...interesting to ponder how much the enemy knew of God's plans when Christ went to the cross, and what he realizes now

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