Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
I once again worked my way through this chapter (1 Corinthians 15), and the above words, this morning. But the context of this beautiful refrain appeared very unique to me this time. Paul leads up to this verse by talking about death and life through the illustration of a seed. He understands the deaths we die, in both our will and our mortality, to be very unimpressive. The seed is what is placed into the ground. No one buries a full plant in all its beauty or usefulness. There is very little about a seed that is useful except that it can become something else when it is allowed to die within the context of good soil.
I was shocked that I’d never paid close enough attention to this reality. The things that we wrestle with, the temptations that we struggle against, the attitudes that threaten to rule our lives…all of those things are not supposed to be attractive or useful. We are not the people who believe that we have to look radiant or have supreme functional value in order to be worthy of God’s resurrection. No, we are those people who are realistic enough to look at the messes that we live in and say, “this looks terribly plain, this looks useless…but that’s exactly what makes a good seed.”
You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel – 1 Corinthians 15.36-37