“Death is swallowed up in victory.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54
Prophecy: The Messiah will conquer death.
Throughout this Easter devotional series, we have been reflecting together on the ways that Jesus, our Messiah, fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. I want to encourage you today to reflect on the final and greatest fulfilled prophecy: the Messiah will conquer death.
This is the truth we sing about in the Easter hymn, “Up from the Grave He Arose.” The chorus says:
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever,
With His saints to reign.
We sing about it, but we don’t tend to take these words as seriously and as literally as we should. In the popular imagination today, Jesus is almost always pictured as meek and mild. But that’s only half the story. On Easter morning, Jesus didn’t knock politely on the boulder covering His tomb. He didn’t ask nicely for His enemies to move aside. The resurrection was a death blow to God’s enemies, the victorious act of the triumphant, conquering King.
All of this was according to a plan announced centuries beforehand. Victory over death was going to be won—not by avoiding it, but by going through it. That is what Jesus did for us. He conquered death by drinking the cup of God’s wrath, laying His life down, and accepting a shameful death. Then, three days later, “death was swallowed up in victory” by the powerful work of God (1 Corinthians 15:54; see Isaiah 25:8).
There is something almost intuitive about this, the more that you think about it. People naturally recoil at suffering and avoid pain. But we all know from experience that the way to conquer fear isn’t to avoid it. Eventually, you have to face it. The same is true of an enemy. You don’t win a victory by avoiding the war. Eventually, you have to turn and fight.
Death—the greatest of all enemies—could not be avoided. It is God’s just punishment for our sin (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23). Death comes for us all because we’re all sinners. And when it comes, death seems to win. Death defeats a living body by turning it into a lifeless corpse. That happened to Jesus. For three days his body lay deceased in a borrowed tomb, hidden behind a massive stone. Death made its sting felt. The disciples scattered in fear. Some went back to their old careers. The disciples on the Road to Emmaus summed up their bitter disappointment: “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).
Soon they came to see the mystery revealed. At the resurrection of Christ, death was swallowed up “for all time” (Isaiah 25:8). On Easter, God kept the promise David foretold, as “he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ” 1,000 years earlier while writing Psalm 16. David died, but he was able to foresee One whose soul would not be abandoned to Sheol, One who would not undergo decay (Acts 2:31; see Psalm 16:10). David was promised a Descendant who would reign forever. This meant the King would have to conquer all His enemies, starting first with death itself.
Isaiah foresaw that death’s defeat would lead to a transformed world. After that death would be swallowed up forever, Isaiah proclaims the result: “And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces. And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8). This is the new reality guaranteed to us by the empty tomb.
If we are in Christ, we can be assured today and always: death will not have the final say over our lives. The pain and sting of death are real, but they are also temporary. A future is coming where tears will have no place. That all began today, on Easter Sunday.
Questions for Thought
- Why did Jesus have to die in order to defeat death?
- How could you share this good news with others who are hurting or hopeless?
When you sing hymns today and hear the Gospels read, think carefully about the words and what they mean. Reflect again on just how incredible the Easter message is and all that it means for your life!
Dr. Robert Jeffress
Dr. Robert Jeffress is Senior Pastor of the 16,000-member First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, and a Fox News Contributor. He is also an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Dr. Jeffress has made more than 4,000 guest appearances on various radio and television programs and regularly appears on major mainstream media outlets. Dr. Jeffress is the Bible teacher and host of the daily radio and television program, Pathway to Victory, which can be heard nationwide on over 1,000 stations and seen on the Trinity Broadcast Network, reaching 195 countries worldwide. Dr. Jeffress is the author of 30 books, including his latest, WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW: 10 Core Beliefs for Standing Strong in a Shifting World, released January 2023. Dr. Jeffress and his wife, Amy, have two daughters and three grandchildren.