Reader: “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death”
Response: “through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Scripture: I Corinthians 15:50-58
What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In following up on yesterday’s pericope, we continue on with Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It is patently obvious that your body and mine will be or are in the process of failing. These bodies of ours for a vast number of reasons, cannot exist let alone function in the heavenly realm. That world lasts eternally. Clearly our physical bodies do not! A sin-contaminated earthly body cannot dwell in a holy heavenly kingdom.
At the same time I’m intrigued with the phrase “we will not all die, but we will all be transformed!” We think of Christian’s lives as being transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit while here on earth. Here we have Christian bodies being transformed at the moment of death. Death itself becomes the moment of transformation which is why Paul says we do not all die, we are transformed. Once again he gives no explanation of how that happens, only that it does in the blink of an eye. Have you realized this takes away the fear of your death? There is no long process like a seed being planted, germinating and eventually popping through the ground growing into a fully developed plant. At the moment of death we are instantly transformed into our immortal bodies.
The latter part of this passage is concerned with the Second Coming of the Lord though the description of the resurrected body still applies. Paul picks up this emphasis again in I Thes. 4:15-17. If we are still alive on earth when that great day happens, our bodies will be instantly changed as will those of believers coming out of the graves. You and I will then have a body that will never die, the last one we’ll ever have! No more aging, sickness, infirmities or mental deterioration. The real challenge for us is to try to put into words something of which we have no experience. We can write the words, but in truth we cannot fully comprehend what we have said. Such a world is a glorious mystery to anticipate.
Paul then quotes Hosea 13:14 with the reference to the “sting of death.” The life of Adam and Eve in the Garden was sinless and perfect. Life for them at that point was eternal. Communion with God was holy. Heaven had come to earth. Sin entered shattering their (and our) heavenly kingdom with a fatal sting. The law proved the power of sin. Human beings could not obey the law resulting in a spiritual and physical death which lasted until Calvary whereupon partial restoration was possible. The spiritual communion with God could be restored, though sin hung round the earthly premises and physical death continued to reign. But for the believer, that earthly death was a misnomer! The redeemed death brought a mortal body transformation to an immortal body. Death was eternally defeated through the glorious victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death.
I love this last part of today’s passage. Theological truth should always have practical application as one of my professors commented to me when we were discussion theology. Paul evidently agreed! His words: work enthusiastically for the Lord. Nothing we do for the Lord is ever in vain. If you and I are involved in what God is doing, his work will go on even after we have left this earth. Think of all the Christians you’ve encountered in your life who have since left this world that continue to influence your walk with the Lord. The fruit of their labor continues even though they are no longer present. What work for the Lord are you doing that will continue after you are gone?
Music: “Death, Where is Thy Sting?” 6th movement Brahms Requiem extract
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfhY31XoN14 Sung in German you’ll have no trouble translating!! Tod=death wo ist= where is seig= sting This portion of the sixth movement is mocking death, having lost its power.
Bonus: “Mornin’ Trumpet” arr. Parker-Shaw Santa Fe Desert Chorale
My risen Lord, I feel thy strong protection; I see thee stand among the graves today. I hear thee say, “I am the Way, the Life, the Resurrection.” And all the burdens I have sadly carried grow light as blossoms on this April day; my cross becomes a staff. I journey gladly these resurrection days, having come through the Sea, I continue on to my final home across the Jordan to the Promised Land. ―Author Unknown, adapted Daniel Sharp