But death was not the end. v26 —
1 Cor 15
26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Christ destroyed the last enemy, death. Why is that important?
Have you ever been bullied growing up? The big kid in the playground during recess terrorizes you day after day. And you live in constant fear. Because you never know when you are going to get beaten up or verbally abused or your lunch money is going to taken away. You are completely at the mercy of the bully.
And whether we know it or not, we’re all being bullied. Death is the big, bad bully that no one ever likes talking about. Many times, esp. while we are younger, we can ignore the bully. We can keep him in the corner of the room. In the absence of the bully, we act like we’re invincible. That we are strong. We live as if we are in control of our destiny. We think we are calling the shots.
But who are we kidding? The bully jumps out from time to time and puts us back in our place. For example, out of the blue, someone gets sick. Or a car swerves in front of us and the bully takes a swing and nearly hits us.
In those moments, we realize that we are not in control. We can’t even guarantee tomorrow. And the bully reminds us, you’re not the boss, you answer to me, I’m in charge.
You might not have woken up this morning and thought about your mortality. Death may be the furthest thing from your mind. But death’s shadow is cast over everything we do.
How are we living in death’s shadow? We are gripped with anxiety. We may not articulate it, but deep down, we know that life is short. We got to make things happen. Now. Everything is urgent. We’re impatient. We got to make our mark on this world. We have to secure our future financially. I got places to go, people to meet.
We are gripped with fear. What if I don’t achieve my dreams? What if I don’t make it in my career? What if that person doesn’t love me? What if I am single for the rest of my life? We are plagued by the “what if’s.”
I’m reaching middle age. I just took my annual physical and you may be shocked to hear this because I look like a professional athlete, but there were some numbers from my lab results that made me feel a bit uneasy. I’m dying. Actually, not really, don’t be alarmed. I’ve reached an age that I have to begin watching what I eat. When you are young, you can drink all the soda and eat all the twinkies you want, but my body can’t handle it anymore. And people my age reach the midpoint of their lives and they experience a mid-life crisis. Where have all the years gone? What have I been doing with my life? Where did that pain come from? This is death’s shadow being cast over us. This is the bully taking some cheap shots when you are not looking.
In these moments of vulnerability, we realize that time is like sand slipping through our fingers. At that point, people either choose to distract themselves. Pleasure seeking. Channel surfing. Numbing oneself to the reality of death. Or, they take life by the horns. They start training for a marathon. We can push back death. We can postpone it. But every person is defeated by death, eventually.
The Bible would agree, in part. v45 —
1 Cor 15
45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
If we’re just nature, if we are just neurons and a sack of bones, then we would all agree, humanity follows the line of the first Adam. Adam came from the dust of the earth and when we lie in our graves, our bodies will return to dust.
Death claims everyone in the line of the first Adam. Great religious leaders: Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, they all became dust. Great political leaders: Caesar Augustus, Alexander the Great, Hitler, they’re dust. Great geniuses like Newton, Pascal, Einstein, where are they? Dust. Great entertainers and innovators of OUR day: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Steve Jobs, they all died.
The great bully, the last enemy defeated, took down, put to rest every single one of them.