Saturday, May 19, 2012

Reflections on 1 Corinthians 15 (Part 6)

Easter is not complete until the Last Day. I don’t mean that there is anything left to do. No, when Christ declared on the cross “It is finished!” He wasn’t lying. It is finished; the resurrection is the seal and guarantee that indeed all has been done. But yet, Easter is still not complete. The victory has been won, but the fullness of that victory will not come to pass until the Last trumpet sounds. On that final Day, what was begun on Easter morning will be brought to its culmination. Christ was raised up as the first-fruits; on that Day we will be raised as the full harvest. On that Day death will be no more; God will wipe away all tears. The victory will be complete.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” When we are raised up with glorified bodies, never to die again, then death will truly be swallowed up in the victory Christ won through the cross and empty tomb; Easter’s triumph will be complete. But even now, as death still seems to reign, Paul reminds us that it is already conquered: “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Last Day is the culmination and completion of Easter, but the victory has already been won. And so, for now we wait. We wait knowing that victory is ours, that death is already a defeated enemy, that nothing can change the outcome of that strange and dreadful strife, where life and death contended. Even as we place our loved ones into the ground, we do so knowing that their victory has already been won. And we wait. Whether we dwell with Christ in heaven or still walk this earth, we wait. We wait singing ‘Alleluia,’ we wait in confident hope, and we wait with the urgent prayer of the Bible’s last verses upon our lips: “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!”

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