“O death, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
“What happens when we die?” From an early age, we ask this question. We ask
because death seems mysterious, unpredictable and strange. We ask because
the idea of death terrifies us.
Terror is an understandable response: death is the curse that we bear for human
sin. We were created to live in eternal closeness to God, but selfish pursuit
broke that relationship and carried us far from the safety, goodness and life found
Just as our bodies cannot survive for long without water, so our souls cannot
survive separation from God. Physical death is symbolic of the full extent of the
curse: complete and permanent separation from God. When held up against the
tremendous beauty of what we were created to be, how we were created to live,
of course this is terrifying!
This is what makes Paul’s words, a paraphrase of Hosea 13:14, so striking:
because of Christ, we no longer need to fear death. In fact, we can be so bold as
to ask “where is your sting?”; “where is your victory?” Through Christ, we are
able to mock death.
Often, we think about mockery or taunting in any competition as bad
sportsmanship, but never before has a victory been so important, or so decisive,
the victor so good or the villain so despicable. Christ took on the sins of
humanity and died on the cross–total separation from God. Then, He rose from
the dead, bursting through what seemed to be an impenetrable barrier. He dealt
a fatal blow to death, and made it look silly in the process.
So as we wait for Christ’s return, and in the meantime suffer from the mad
thrashing of death, which is itself dying, we can feel not only consolation, but
triumph in the fact that the outcome was decided on the cross. Death still strikes
out at us with all of its might, but because of Christ, we need look no further than
the scoreboard to know how this game will end.
So, we play on and wait, and even when death deals a heavy blow, we are
privileged to ask, “O death, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy
Thanks be to God!