Summary: Paul in discussing the resurrection of Christ states that Christ has taken the sting out of or defanged death.
Introduction: Easter Sunday is a great day of celebration. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Garden Tomb. We celebrate His victory over sin, Satan, and death. Paul in discussing the resurrection of Christ states that Christ has taken the sting out of or defanged death. If you say there is no sting to death, go to the hospital and observe its sting as a husband watches life ebb from his dying wife. Go to the funeral home and observe the faces of those who pass by the open casket. Listen when the doctor pronounces that you have a terminal illness from which you will not recover. This morning as we think of our risen Lord I want you to consider that death is man’s greatest enemy, which he has vainly sought to conquer. Christ has achieved what man cannot and offers us the victory today.
I. Death is man’s greatest enemy
A. Death is often described as a terror.
1. Psalm 55:4 “My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
2. Job 18:14 “…the king of terrors.”
B. Francis Bacon wrote, “Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark.”
C. The fear of death is not biological, but spiritual. There is no physiological reason for man to fear death. In our natural state, however, all men fear death. If we are merely the product of evolution or existence by chance, then there is no reason to fear extinction or non-existence. But within man is a soul that tells him that there is something more than non-existence; that there is a God and existence beyond the grave. There is within the heart of man a fear of impending judgment and the potential of eternal torments.
D. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
E. Some one has said that there are three reasons why most men fear death. Some fear that they shall lose their worldly honors, riches, possessions, and all their heart’s desires. Others fear because of the painful diseases and bitter suffering, which many go through, either before or at the time of death. But the number one reason, the chief cause above all others, is the dread of the miserable state of eternal damnation both of body and soul, which they fear will follow, after their departing from the worldly pleasure of this present life. – adapted from Monte Kuligowski
F. Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”
II. Man has vainly sought to conquer death.
A. Woody Allen is quoted as having said, “The fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. Death is absolutely stupefying in its terror.” He went on to say, "I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."
B. In Johnny Hart’s comic strip "B.C.," a man climbs to the top of a mountain to seek a guru. "Oh, great Guru," he asks, "what is the secret of life?" The guru answers in two words "Don’t die!"
C. Over countless centuries man has sought to either eliminate death or to prolong the inevitability death. From the ancient Persian legend of the desperate search for a magic elixir by the Sumerian king Gilgamesh to Ponce Deleon in his search for the fountain of youth to modern times with men like Isaac Asminov and scientology’s founder L Ron Hubbard, men have sought to live forever under the believe that there is something that they could do that would delay the inevitable.
D. Ecclesiastes 8:8 “There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.”
E. Romans 5:12 MKJV “Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned:”
III. Christ victoriously did what man could not do in conquering death.
A. The English are an interesting people. They celebrate two defeats as if they were victories. One is Scott’s fatal attempt to reach the South Pole. The other is the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War. They were heroic defeats but defeats all the same. It appears to the unbeliever that Christians celebrate a defeat when they speak of Calvary. But that was not a defeat; it was a victory.