Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ will all be brought to life; but all of them in their proper order: Christ the first-fruits, and next, at his coming, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, having abolished every principality, every ruling force and power. For he is to be king until he has made his enemies his footstool, and the last of the enemies to be done away with is death… Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?
1 Cor 15:22-26, 55
All of them in their proper order. For anyone with toddlers, this can be a frustrating concept. From something as simple as pants before shoes, to something as tantrum-inducing as supper before dessert, children are often frustrated by the importance of doing things in the proper order. Of course, as adults, we are not immune to this issue ourselves. Who hasn’t lamented the fact that becoming more healthy necessarily comes after changing our lifestyle?
As followers of Jesus, we are convinced that through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the powers of sin, death and evil have been defeated. The kingdom of this fallen world has been overcome. We can rejoice together, knowing that death has lost its sting for us. This is what we celebrate at Easter.
And yet we still live in a world where that victory over sin, death and evil can be difficult to see at times. We have glimpses, visions, promises for what will be when Christ comes. But in a sense, we are stuck in Good Friday, even though we know Easter is coming. So how are we to respond to this interim period, this time-between-the-times? With hope.
Hope is no small thing. Hope can sustain us through the darkest time. But hope requires a future. Without a future, without the prospect of something new, hope quickly fades into wishful thinking. That is why Paul, when he reminds the Corinthians of the essence of the gospel, appeals to the resurrection. And not just the resurrection of Jesus, but to the great resurrection of which Jesus’s resurrection is just the first-fruits. The resurrection in which all of us who are fallen in our sinfulness will be restored, when all those who are dead will be raised back to life, when the whole cosmos will be brought back into conformity with God’s purpose and authority.
Our faith is founded on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our hope is based on his future coming to complete the work begun at Easter. But all of them in their proper order. We are living in Holy Saturday, the time-between-the-times of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But not in the despair of the disciples on that first Easter. We have been given a future, a promise, a vision of God’s ultimate triumph and our redemption and restoration. As we look back and celebrate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection this Easter, remember to also look forward and celebrate the hope we have because of Jesus’ future coming.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, “Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past is gone.
By Ryan Klassen