“What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. … Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.” — 1 Corinthians 15:46-47, 49 (NLT)
When someone passes away, it is the ultimate loss. Death can be painful physically and emotionally for the person dying, and also for their loved ones and friends. When we die, it seems like the end of everything because our earthly life is finished. But for believers, a new life begins.
Long ago, Job asked questions about whether or not life is possible after death. In the midst of Job’s physical pain, he was comforted with the unshakable hope of life after death, in a better body forever: “Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death” (Job 14:14, NLT).
When we reflect upon the events surrounding the life of Christ, we see hope beyond the grave because the tomb couldn’t hold Jesus. The followers of Jesus moved from deep sorrow to incredible joy when they realized Jesus was alive again, just like He said would happen. When they came to see the tomb, the angels addressed their doubts and fears: “Don’t be alarmed. … You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the essence of the Gospel. Therefore, Paul emphasized this central message everywhere he went. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). After He rose, more than 500 people saw Jesus in a glorified body. They saw Him eat and listened to Him talk about the future. Jesus’ presence with them for 40 days reassured them of His victory, and He gifted us the Holy Spirit to reassure us today.
Paul’s words affirmed our eternal win over death. “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).
Jesus defeated death, so believers don’t need to look at death with dread or fear. Because Jesus triumphed over death, we are victorious.
— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Georgia
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