The defeat of death

Date: Friday, March 29 (Good Friday)

Scripture1 Corinthians 15:12-34

Verses: But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. (1 Corinthians 15:20)
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

There is a vast difference between watching an event and actually participating in it. I have written previously (“The Triumphal Entry“) about Bob Goff’s New Years Day parade in which everyone is a participant and no one stands on the curb just watching the parade pass by. There are some events for which the best we can hope is to be a witness. There are others though in which simply watching is not enough. We are called to participate.

Paul uses an interesting phrase in today’s reading. He calls Jesus’ resurrection “the first fruits of those who have died.” First fruits is an archaic phrase which literally refers to the produce that ripens first. We read in the Old Testament how the Israelites brought the first fruits of their harvest as an offering to God. The first fruits also served as an indicator of the rest of the crop. If the first fruits were healthy, it would be reasonable to expect the rest of the harvest to be healthy as well. In that sense, the first fruits were a sign of what was to come that could not yet be seen.

Today’s passage reminds us how Jesus’ resurrection is not an event we are simply called to admire from afar. Rather it is a “first fruits” event, an indicator of what we can expect on the great day of resurrection yet to come. As Ben Witherington puts it in a recent 7-Minute Seminary video, “Christ’s history is our destiny” (“Easter and the Resurrection” embedded below). Resurrection is our hope – the day the perishable will put on the imperishable, the mortal the immortal. We look forward to the day when the last enemy, death, is destroyed. From this promise of the day of resurrection yet to come Paul is emboldened to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even at the risk of physical harm.

We will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday, longing for the day when we too will be resurrected with him. That hope we have in Christ changes everything.

Prayer: Thank you God for the great gift of resurrection still to come! Amen.

Action: Plan to participate in something you have only seen done previously.

Respond: What difference does the hope of resurrection make in your life today? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below. If you are receiving this via email, click the title at the top of the email to take you to the devotion webpage where you can leave a comment.

Join us for Good Friday worship this evening at 7:00pm at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. We will remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and the gift of life we receive through it.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube here.


About Joe Iovino

Christian, husband & father, Associate Pastor in Monument CO, guitar player, motorcyclist, Mets fan.
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One Response to The defeat of death

  1. Mark Hatfield says:

    Amazing how long you can sit in a “pew” and not get it. So if I heard this correctly, all of the Christians who have died over the last 2000 years and xx future years will be resurrected when Jesus comes again? Why have I missed this for so long?

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