Death has been swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54
A short story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges tells of a Roman soldier, Marcus Rufus, who drinks from a “secret river that purifies men of death.” In time, though, Marcus realizes immortality wasn’t all it was cracked up to be: life without limits was life without significance. In fact, it is death itself that gives meaning to life. Marcus finds an antidote—a spring of clear water. After drinking from it, he scratches his hand on a thorn, and a drop of blood forms, signifying his restored mortality.
Like Marcus, we too sometimes despair over the decline of life and the prospect of death (Psalm 88:3). We agree that death gives significance to life. But this is where the stories diverge. Unlike Marcus, we know it’s in Christ’s death that we find the true meaning of our lives. With the shedding of His blood on the cross, Christ conquered death, swallowing it up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). For us, the antidote is in the “living water” of Jesus Christ (John 4:10). Because we drink that, all the rules of life, death, and life immortal have changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).
It’s true, we won’t escape physical death, but that isn’t the point. Jesus upends all our despair about life and death (Hebrews 2:11–15). In Christ, we’re reassured with the hope of heaven and of meaningful joy in eternal life with Him.
What are you worried about? What are your thoughts about the prospect of death? How does 1 Corinthians 15 encourage you?
God, help me to embrace Your promises about deliverance into eternal life with You.
As the apostle Paul concluded a masterful defense of bodily resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:54–55, he quoted from two Old Testament passages that highlight the defeat of death (see Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14). The word victory is used three times in 1 Corinthians 15:54–57. The “Lord Jesus Christ” gets the credit for victory over death (v. 57). The Greek word for “victory” is nikos. A popular shoe company uses a form of this word as their brand name (nikē). In Revelation, we see the word victorious (niv) from the same root (see 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 15:2; 21:7). Other translations use the terms overcomes or conquers. In Romans 8:37, the word appears in compound form and is translated “more than conquerors.” How assuring to know that the One who was victorious over death is our source of victory in all of life.