“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.1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Meditating on death, at its very core, is morbid and depressing. We mourn, weep, and lament death, sure—but what is the point of taking a week (at some level six weeks) to meditate and reflect deeply on it? Is that necessary or helpful? Wouldn’t it be better to keep things positive?
For the Christian, death is not exclusively bad news because we have a clear view of the grander story. Death isn’t the end; it is a movement of the plot that ultimately gives way to the glory of resurrection. Death is no longer a bitter pill to swallow; it has been swallowed up in victory, it has lost its sting. Death is the harbinger of good news for the person who is shaped by God’s story. Meditating on death is a means toward understanding the grander story of the gospel.
Amid this grander story, the reality of death confronts and challenges us—it reminds us that life is frail and fleeting, and it beckons us to examine our daily life.
To be a Christian means to have located your identity, your worth, your value in Jesus—he has become your treasure. Death, therefore, serves as a constant reminder of where to place our treasure:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19–21
A life well lived is one that treasures Christ above all. Meditating on the impending nature and finality of death is necessary because it helps us to examine what we are treasuring.
Meditating on death is also a means toward understanding and receiving the grace of God through Christ. Death is a direct result of the Fall, as sin entered into our reality. Our world—and our own lives—are filled with death and decay because of the power and presence of sin.
We are nearing the end of this Lenten journey. For this journey to become truly real to you, you must come face to face with the depth of sin that is present in your heart and life. You have to see yourself for who you really are: a sinner fully deserving of God’s just and holy wrath (Romans 3). We have to see ourselves how God sees us because it is only as we believe what God says about our true condition without him that we will be able to believe what God has done for us to make us his. God has given us his only begotten Son, our true Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. God has given us his best to redeem us. That is what God has done for us!
God does not ignore our sin; he atones for it. He does not look past who we are, he redeems us through his great love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10). Because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we are accepted by God, we are saints in the kingdom of God.
It is only as we believe in the depth of our sin that we can truly understand and believe in the overwhelming grace, mercy, and love of God. And this is the good news of the gospel: God’s grace and mercy through the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is so much deeper and greater than what we see in our own hearts. Praise Jesus!
Excerpted from Journey to the Cross © 2017 by Will Walker and Kendal Haug. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.
JOURNEY TO THE CROSS: DEVOTIONS FOR LENT
Journey to the Cross moves us closer to the heart of Easter through forty days of Bible readings, prayers of confession and thanksgiving, and daily devotional readings. This forty-day devotional takes a deeper look into six central themes of the Christian life: repentance, humility, suffering, lament, sacrifice, and death.