I am coming up on a very sobering anniversary in my life. On April 29, it will have been one year since my sister Kelly died. Then on May 24, the one year anniversary of my father’s death will come. Today is Good Friday. I suppose I’ve been thinking deeply about death today. The sting is present. I suppose it has never really left.
Death is no respecter of persons. Even Jesus died. That’s what we remember today. My mind has been drawn to 1 Corinthians 15 where it says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” It is days like today when I wonder. I wonder if we have misused that verse. Because today, I feel stung afresh.
But then I remember the words that precede: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written.” The sting of death is still with us. It isn’t until we breathe deeply our first breath in our glorified, immortal, imperishable bodies that we can say that death’s sting is removed. Jesus has went before us. He resurrected, was given an imperishable body, and is the first fruit of the promised resurrection for those who have trusted him. For him, death’s sting is gone. For us, we wait.
Eternity has been placed in our hearts, so when life is cut off it is a shock to our existence.
It really is a disservice to us when we try to soften the blow of death. Death has a sting for a reason. The sting of death was put there by God. It is, after all, his curse. The sting of death is meant to turn our gaze toward God. It is the reminder that death will come for us as well because we are under God’s curse and our sins demand a price.
When we sit in funerals of other believers and are told that this death is a reason for celebration, the sentiment maybe well intentioned, but the reality is that the sting of death has penetrated us, and the pain of loss, the grief we endure is happening because the world is broken. This is not the way it was supposed to be, and our spirits are grieved. Eternity has been placed in our hearts, so when life is cut off it is a shock to our existence. The sting runs deeply.
Deep within, we long for someone to make things right. That’s why we have legends and myths of princes rescuing princesses by killing witches and slaying dragons. A redeemer comes and sets right everything that is wrong. Jesus is the Redeemer, the only one that matters. Every story, every legend that exists where a hero comes to save the day is a shadow of the real Redeemer of all mankind.
Long ago, today, Jesus died because he was making all things new. Through his death, we can be forgiven and experience redemption! But don’t rush past the pain. The pain for Jesus was deeper, more intense, more excruciating than we could dare imagine. The pain is the sting. He took the full venom of death’s sting for us! And even though we still experience the sting of death, we don’t endure it without hope. Because Jesus rose from the grave and ascended back to heaven, we have the promise that one day, the sting of death will be removed for us as well.