“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
For the most part, humanity has never liked death. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and sinned by breaking the command of God, death has been a reality. Before sin, Adam and Eve could eat from the Tree of Life and live forever, however, once sin became a reality death also became a reality. And ever since one fact has remained true, everyone that is born will eventually die. Even those that were brought back to life from death (Lazerus, Jairus’s daughter, the widow of Nain’s son…) all eventually died again. Death is the ultimate curse of sin. It is an evil that can not be defeated and can not be avoided. It robs us of time with our friends and loved ones. It separates us from those we care most about. It is a great unknown that seems so final. And so we mourn death’s coming because we know it will leave pain and heartache in its wake.
However, as Christians we have to understand death differently. While we may not praise it’s coming we live in a new reality, the reality of the empty tomb. We live in the reality that 2000 years ago Jesus rose from the grave. We live in the reality that 2000 years ago Jesus, after suffering and dying a cruel and painful death on the cross, rose triumphantly to live again. Not only was he the perfect sacrfice for sin, a spotless lamb given for all, but he defeated death, he defeated the curse of sin, and he rose to live forever. And his resurrection changes our reality. While death entered the world because of sin, resurrection and life has entered the world because of Jesus. Jesus has become a first fruits, a sign that just as he rose from the grave others will rise from the grave. Death is no longer a curse because death is no longer final.
And so as Christians we mourn and grieve differently. We don’t mourn as those who have no hope. We don’t grieve as those who are facing an uncertain reality. We still mourn death because it is a reminder that even though Christ reigns his Kingdom is not complete yet and things are not all as we hope they will be. We still mourn death because it is a reminder that sin is still real and it hasn’t been vanquished completely from the earth. We still mourn death because it steals us from our loved ones and takes them away from us into a vast unknown that we can’t understand. However, we mourn with hope because we believe in the power of resurrection. We mourn with hope becasue we understand that death is not the end. We mourn with hope because we see death more clearly, not as an ending but as part of a journey, not as a closed door but as a gate to walk through, not as a last scene, but as a continuing saga. We mourn with hope because we are living in a new reality. It is the reality of the empty tomb, the reality of the Lordship of Christ, the reality that death is not the end but that in Christ we will all be raised again to live for all eternity in the Kingdom of God. And so we can say with all assurance, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?…Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)