“Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
The grave is still empty, PCC, and we have a story to tell!
Have I ever told you that I have my first 10,000 years of Heaven planned? I pray for it all the time and interact with Jesus about what I want to do with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth. We are invited, after all, in Colossians 3:1-2 to set our minds and affections on things above, are we not?
There is an event chronicled in Revelation 20:7-10 that I cannot wait to witness and I have asked for VIP seating. It is the opening of Hell and its first occupant being tossed in. Satan himself, for whom Hell was originally created, will be judged once and for all and sent tumbling into eternal torment! I admit that I have a smile on my face as I type those words!
I imagine I will be screaming a worship song at the scene … I even have it picked out. Those lines from Luther’s great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God: “The prince of darkness grim — We tremble not for him; / His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure, / One little word shall fell him.” Maybe God will be good enough to let me throw my arms around Luther himself and we’ll sing it together!
PCC, this is not some form of denial of earthly realities, but rather a most accurate perspective in lieu of what we just celebrated on Easter Sunday. The sting of death was destroyed forever that first Easter!
Have you ever been stung by a bee? It’s not a fun experience. But although it’s painful for the person being stung, it’s fatal for the bee.
When a honeybee stings a person, it can’t pull its little barbed stinger back out. This is a one-time experience for them. They had better think carefully about who they are going to sting, because once they do it, they are not going to survive.
When a bee stings you, not only is the bee’s stinger left in you but also part of its abdomen and digestive tract, as well as nerves and muscles. This massive abdominal rupture kills the bee shortly after it stings.
That is what happened when Jesus died on the cross and rose three days later. In his enduring hatred for God’s Son, Satan thought it would be a great idea to have Jesus betrayed, arrested, beaten within an inch of His life, and then crucified and put to death on a Roman cross. Satan said, “This is my moment. I am going to sting Him. I will orchestrate His death and when He dies, that is the end of Him.” Everything went according to Satan’s plan, and like a bee, he flew off thinking he had succeeded.
But everything went according to God’s plan as well, and the sting of death was its own defeat.
Where is the sting of death for the believer? It is ripped out, because at the cross and on Easter Morning, Jesus took the stinger out of death.
This is a great truth. As Christians, we no longer need to fear death because our souls will live on forever with Christ, and death itself was dealt, well, a death blow once for all!
This weekend, we will get to witness all that God did through our 140 students and adults who served in Mexico all of Holy Week. It’s always a treat to hear of new life in Christ and new convictions formed on this trip. I’ll see you on Sunday!
I love being your pastor!