The Easter Effect3 min read

Everybody dies.

Is that a happy thought for an Easter celebration? Probably not. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be a frightening one. Remember what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:54:

“Death is swallowed up in victory!”

So, yes, everybody dies—but everybody who trusts in Jesus will live again and forever.

For now, though, death still looms large in our lives. For you, maybe it’s the recent death of a loved one or the approaching death of someone close to you. Maybe it’s your trips to the cemetery to visit the grave of a spouse, a parent, or perhaps a child. Or it’s your own death that you know is going to happen probably sooner rather than later.

Death looms large in everyone’s life. Nowhere was this truer than it was for Jesus. He lived His life knowing not only that He would die, but knowing also when and how it was going to happen.

But Easter isn’t about death—it’s about life, new life, everlasting life. People often visit the cemetery where a loved one was buried. We can’t do that for Jesus. He isn’t there! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

That is a historical fact. Jesus died. It really happened. Jesus came back to life. That really happened, as well.

Let’s call this “The Easter Effect” and think about it in two ways: what Easter means for us right now and, also, what it will mean for us in the future.

The Easter Effect is very evident in our lives right now. While death still looms large, it doesn’t have the same effect it would have had without Easter. The sting of death still remains and in fact can still be almost unbearable, but the Easter Effect means that fear and sorrow over death are lessened to one degree or another. Believers bury our loved ones knowing we’ll see them again. That diminishes the sorrow. We contemplate our own death knowing we will live again. That reduces the fear. Already that has happened for us.

Those things are already true, such is the magnitude of the Easter Effect. But they pale in comparison with what is yet to come, when the full effect is experienced at the return of Christ.

At that time death won’t just be diminished, it will be obliterated.  

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

St. Paul tells us that will happen when Christ comes again. At His return, death will be completely obliterated. But not until then.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality,

then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Did you catch it? When the perishable (that which can die) has put on the imperishable (that which cannot die), then death will be swallowed up in victory.

That hasn’t happened—not yet. That’s why it still hurts when someone we love dies. But the pain won’t last forever. By that I don’t mean that the pain will fade over time. I suppose it might, although there’s certainly no guarantee of that. But whether or not the pain fades over time, there will come a time when the pain will be gone, completely and forever. That time is coming, but it’s not here yet.

When it is here, there will be no more trips to the cemetery to visit the grave of a father or mother, a wife or husband. What would be the point? They won’t be there!

That’s when death will be swallowed up forever and when Satan’s power will be a thing of the past. On that day, as St. Paul says, we will shout with joy:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

That’s the Easter Effect. To which, also with St. Paul, we exclaim:

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

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About the Author

Rev. Mark D. Brandt serves as the 1st Vice President of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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