The Day Death Thought He Won
The Day Death Thought He Won
Life can be so good. When I see my son play, when I see my wife smile, when I have a good belly laugh, I am reminded how good life can be. But even in the happiest times, there is always a shadow. For life does not last. No matter how full, how happy, how healthy, how long life may be, death always finds us. He finds everything. He claims everything. Trees die, flowers die, animals die, we die.
And how we hate him. We avoid him, ignore him, fight him, run from him, fear him, hate him, and yet death always wins. He is relentless. He haunts us, follows us, seeks us, finds us, and claims us. Paul says it well in Romans. All have sinned, and so all are cursed by sin, and sin spreads, and sin invites death. For the wages of sin is death. Death never fails to exact what is due him. Romans 5:14 says that death reigns. And though we do not know it yet, we are already dead. For as death separates our souls from our body in the end, as death separates us from this world on that day, our sin already separates us from God. And God is Life.
But something amazing happened. One day Life arrived. The eternal Life, the original Life, the Originator of all other life, the Sustainer of all life, He appeared. And He had power. He walked on water. He multiplied a bit of bread and fish to feed thousands. He turned water into wine. He healed the sick, and caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the mute to speak, and the lame to walk. His voice commanded demons to depart and storms to cease. He even displayed power over death. At the death of his friend Lazarus, this Life commanded death to release him, and Lazarus walked out of his own tomb.
In yet in great irony, this Life marched to His own death. Today is Good Friday, the day when we remember that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Life, was beaten, mocked, pierced, and crucified. As He hung on that cross, death arrived. It came to claim yet another life. But this One was different. There was no debt to pay. He owed death nothing. Death had no authority here. No power. No wages to exact. No life to claim. And yet Jesus died. Death claimed what was not its to own, and Jesus died. He died, and He was buried, and the stone sealed the tomb. It was over.
Death won. He had defeated Life. But even in Death’s greatest victory, his greatest triumph, his greatest claim, he was fooled. For when death claimed Jesus, Jesus took the debt we owed, and He nailed it to the cross. Our iniquities were laid on Him, He bore our griefs, He carried out sorrows, He was pierced through for our sins, and our chastening fell on His shoulders. Though the stroke was due to fall on us, it fell on Him. And the Life died. Death thought it stole this Life, but instead, Jesus gave His life away.
And then Jesus took it back. He that called Lazarus out of the grave, and commanded death to give back the life he had taken, grasped His own life out of the jaws of death. He wrestled His life out of death’s grasp. He triumphed over death, He disarmed death, He broke death’s power, and He rose. The stone was rolled away, and Jesus walked out of His own tomb. Jesus lives.
He fought the fight we could not win, and He beat the enemy we could not overpower. And now He offers life to any who believe Him. And when we place our faith in Jesus, believing that He died for ours sins, and believing that He rose again, we are saved. His death becomes our death. His life becomes our life. His victory becomes our victory. And though we were dead in our sins, God, being rich in mercy, makes us alive in Christ. We are healed. We are forgiven. We are delivered, rescued, and redeemed. We are alive. We are free.
Our debt is paid! It is paid in full by the precious blood that Jesus spilled! Now the curse of sin has no hold on you, for whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
I Corinthians 15 reminds us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Our perishable and mortal bodies must still put on the imperishable, the immortal. One day this will happen. One day we will be changed. And on that day, Paul states in I Corinthians 15:54-57:
Then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Good Friday remembers the day the death thought he won. Yet it will always be the day that he was dealt his most crushing defeat. The roaring lion is victorious. The eternal, original, and true Life, Jesus Christ, now reigns.
And we must not forget that.