1 Corinthians 15:51-58
51 Listen, I’m telling you a secret: All of us won’t die, but we will all be changed— 52 in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the final trumpet. The trumpet will blast, and the dead will be raised with bodies that won’t decay, and we will be changed. 53 It’s necessary for this rotting body to be clothed with what can’t decay, and for the body that is dying to be clothed in what can’t die. 54 And when the rotting body has been clothed in what can’t decay, and the dying body has been clothed in what can’t die, then this statement in scripture will happen:
Death has been swallowed up by a victory. [Isaiah 25:8]
55 Where is your victory, Death?
Where is your sting, Death? [Hosea 13:14]
(56 Death’s sting is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.) 57 Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord.
This passage is often read at memorial services and funerals, times when people are longing for hope, understanding and confidence that life after death is a reality. Paul didn’t provide details. Instead, he painted a faith-filled picture of God changing humanity’s fundamental way of being in the world from dying—even our bodies—into a quality of life that can’t die. Paul was sure death has no ultimate victory or sting when we trust in the grace of Jesus Christ.
- Paul quoted the prophet Hosea to deny that death “wins” even when it touches us: “Where is your victory, Death?” (cf. Hosea 13:14) For Christ-followers, death is not a defeat, but a transition into a different part of our victorious walk with Jesus. Does the very idea of death cause you fear and anxiety? How does this passage speak to you in times of distress, doubt and grief? How do you understand what Paul was trying to convey to the followers of Jesus in Corinth (and, through them, to you)?
- Legendary NFL coach Tony Dungy said, “The best leaders are following Christ. That's the best leader you can follow.”* When did you first begin to follow Christ? What has helped you grow your commitment to following Christ into a firm, unshakable life foundation that keeps you working for Christ’s glory to be fulfilled in this world and beyond?
Lord Jesus, keep changing me through my relationship with you, in this life and in the life to come. I look forward to being with you eternally. Amen.
* Quote found at: https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=tony+dungy
Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.