Wednesday 20th February
1 Corinthians 15:55-58, Hosea 13:14
No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me;
(In Christ Alone Lyrics; Keith Getty)
In Christ alone is one of my favourite songs. Its words stand as a constant reminder of the power of Christ’s work on the cross and the victory that we too as children of God can live and abide in. Christ’s finish work on the cross leads us or should lead us into a life free from guilt, free from death and the fear of death and into becoming more like Jesus.
However, as I am getting older, I’m seeing more and more people die around me. Cancer has increased to a shockingly high figure. Sickness and disease is on the rise. These facts shock my heart and cause me to realise that life is so temporary and so often, if I’m honest it does cause me to fear. Yet I must remind myself of Paul’s words in his first epistle to the Corinthian church. “Death, where is your sting? Grave (Hades) where is your victory?” What does this mean and how can this give hope in a hopeless world and victory to those suffering with life threatening illnesses? Let’s take a look at where Paul took this passage from in Hosea.
We read in Hosea 13:14 that God through Hosea reminds the tribe of Ephraim of His jealous love for Israel, His people. Although He has punished them for their rebellion and adulterous hearts towards Him (God Almighty), He promises to ransom and redeem them from death’s grasp. Great judgement awaits God’s children but He is already working on a redemption and rescue plan. The words in this text, “redeem” and “ransom” signify a rescuing, by the means of paying a price/debt that is owed. God was already thinking of this ransom and His redeeming act of kindness. He knew Israel had sinned against Him yet in His grace He was already planning to send His Son as a ransom and redeemer not only for Israel, but also for the whole world.
When Jesus was crucified and died on the cross a price was paid that should have been ours. However when Christ rose from the dead, not only did He defeat sin but He also conquered the grave, He defeated death itself. What are the wages of sin? Death, both physically and spiritually. However, what is God’s promise to His people and to those who accept Him? The gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Jesus was God’s plan of redemption and His resurrection paid, defeated and stands as promise over death and sin. We may die physically but no longer has death got a sting, moreover it is a blessing. Why? Because when die, we live with Christ eternally. Remember Paul’s dilemma in Philippians? He debated with himself whether it was better to live or to die. He could only have that debate because he knew that when he died, no matter the means by which he died, that he would live forever in God’s presence.
Let us not take away from the reality that loosing someone is a harsh fact. They will be dearly missed and it is ok to be sorrowful for their loss. But let us also be encouraged, that death for a believer is temporary and on that great day of awakening, we shall join those who have died in the victory parade to Heaven’s pearly gates to forever abide in the presence of God Almighty, where there is no pain, no suffering, no sadness but joy eternal. Lets us remember that the sting of death is no more, for all victory has been won in Christ Jesus.