“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
(1 Corinthians 15:26)
Even if we didn’t have God’s word on the matter, a moment’s reflection would reveal that death is neither our friend nor is it a neutral, innocuous feature of the created order. Rather, death is an enemy so fearsome that we expend an almost unfathomable amount of effort trying to stave it off, to hold it back from devouring us and the ones we love. In the Western world especially, people expend as much time and effort creating and engaging in forms of entertainment to distract them from the reality of death as they do fighting against death itself. Despite man’s best efforts, however, death comes for all of us (Hebrews 9:27). David and Joshua spoke for all those who have reached the end of their journey in this world when they declared that they were going “the way of all the earth” (Joshua 23:14; 1 Kings 2:2). As the centuries rolled on from the dawn of human history, death, like a great, ravenous beast that is never satiated, continued to consume people (Habakkuk 2:5). Men, women, and children, rich and poor alike, none could escape its jaws. “Death reigned,” wrote the great apostle, “from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (Roman 5:14). In the fullness of time, the One Whom Adam prefigured did come, “made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). This Perfect One, God incarnate (Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 3:16), placed Himself in death’s path, tempting and inviting “the beast” to “devour” Him. At the cross, this is precisely what happened. The Light of the world had been removed from the land of the living, apparently snuffed out and consumed by the enemy called death. His resurrection, however, marks His utter victory over the once unconquerable beast. At long last, mankind’s most hated and feared enemy had been defeated. Our Lord had effectively “tamed the beast,” forcing it to do His will. He commanded that He be released to reenter the land of the living, and death fearfully submitted to the King of kings and Lord of lords. The pains of death were loosened “because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24). Today, we see our Lord’s resurrection as the supreme vindication of His radical claims about Himself. It also reveals that death is no longer operating as an attack animal under the command of Satan. The Scriptures remind us that Jesus “destroy[ed] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The keys of Death and Hades belong to Christ now (Revelation 1:18), and He will one day force death to release those who “sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Death itself will destroyed (Revelation 20:14) and God’s glorified saints will shine as the stars forever (Daniel 12:2). Praise the Lord for His promise of a future forever free of death’s sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-56; Revelation 21:1-5). Maranatha!