Laughing in the Face of the Grim Reaper
"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
The Grim Reaper is perhaps the most recognizable figure of all time. The hooded skeleton with a sharp sickle in his bony hands has been the personification of death to all generations.
And death is something man fears greatly. Try as we might, it is something you and I can’t escape. When The Grim Reaper comes to call, there is nowhere to run or hide. He takes down the strong as well as the weak. One Friday in Jerusalem, he even took down the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
MET HIS MATCH
But unlike those who had gone before Him, Jesus didn’t stay dead. On the third day, He broke the sickle of death and sent The Grim Reaper packing. As He left the tomb, He laughed in the face of The Grim Reaper as he lay utterly defeated at His feet. And what’s more, He offers His victory over death to you and me today.
Do you fear death? Do you block that ghastly thought out of your mind? Do you quickly change the subject if death comes up? Does the thought of The Grim Reaper coming for you scare you to death? (I couldn’t resist.)
As a preacher, I have done lots of weddings and funerals. While I am always happy to conduct a wedding and tie a good strong knot (no slip knots!), I really prefer funerals … not because I am morbid, but because of two main reasons:
1. There is no mother of the bride at funerals (just kidding).
2. People are forced to consider the reality of death at funerals.
DEATH LOST ITS STING
Did you know that if you are in Christ, you never really die? It is true! Jesus said, “Everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26). When a person receives Jesus, that person passes out of death to life (see John 5:24). Certainly, Christians still experience the death of the body, but they never experience the death of the soul. When a Christian dies, he/she goes immediately to be with Jesus – “absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
You see, “the sting of death is sin.” But Jesus died for all my sins. He took the sting for my sins. Because I have received Jesus as Savior and Lord, death has no power to sting me. Like a stinging scorpion that lost its stinger, death cannot really hurt me. It is just the shadow of death that I face. Jesus already faced the real thing for me. And He has for you too, but you must receive Him to make His sacrifice personally effective.
THE BEST PART
The Bible makes it clear that when Jesus returns, He calls His own to Himself and transforms our earthly bodies into glorified ones. The mortal puts on immortality, and the perishable puts on the imperishable. Those who are dead in Christ are raised up from the grave, and those who are alive in Christ when He returns are caught up to the clouds. Both groups will get to laugh in the face of The Grim Reaper saying, “Death you couldn’t hold me, you couldn’t touch me! Where is your victory? It is swallowed up in Jesus Christ!”
Make it a daily practice to thank God for giving His Son for you on the cross. Thank Jesus for taking your sting so that death has no power over you. And when the subject of death is mentioned, fear not. The scorpion has lost its stinger if you know Jesus.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.