O death, you really should just surrender

I am closer to death today than I was yesterday. So are you. How close, neither of us knows, but there is a day coming when death and I will meet on the battlefield and death will win that battle.

But, praise God, because of Jesus I will win the war.

Do you know why tomorrow is Good Friday? Because victory over death is a very good thing, and that’s what Jesus Christ secured for us when he died on the cross almost 2,000 years ago. It seems strange, I know, to claim that he conquered death by dying. Wouldn’t that mean that death won? It would but for one thing: His death was not the end of the conflict. “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.”

Seemingly defeated, Jesus’s dead body hung like a tropaion, a Greek or Roman monument the victors erected by hanging the armor of the conquered on a tree. Death claimed the victory, as it had over countless men, women, and children before. But this time was different. This time the monument would be toppled and destroyed, and death itself would be conquered for all people, for all time.

The conflict was not over on Friday, though it certainly seemed to be for those who watched Jesus breathe his last and be taken down dead from the cross and buried in a tomb. And for that long, dark night and all the next day as his disciples hid in fear wondering what just happened and what to do now. Because Sunday morning everything changed.

Sunday morning Jesus was raised very much alive which means he won the final victory, the ultimate victory, the never to be overturned victory – not death. And it means that all who are in Christ, all who believe and trust in him, all who surrender to his lordship, are victorious over death as well.

So, though death will overtake us all someday – except for those who are alive when Jesus returns, which could be any day now – our bodies will be raised alive again also. Death will knock us down, but we will get up and death does not get another shot at us – except for those who have rejected Christ and refused to love the truth. For them death does get the final victory.

But for us who have not rejected but instead received Christ and his immeasurably great gift of salvation through faith in him, we needn’t fear death because it holds no ultimate power over us. Our bodies will be raised in glorious triumph, never to face the enemy again.

O death, what can you do that the eternal, omnipotent God cannot undo? O death, why should I fear that which my Savior has conquered?

O death, where is your victory?

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “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 the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:53-57