July 26, 2024

Asleep in Jesus

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

—  1 Corinthians 15:20

Do you ever use euphemisms? Euphemisms are nice-sounding phrases that we use to talk about something harsh or difficult. For example, we may say “golden years” rather than “old age.” And many cultures describe dying in terms of “passing away.” Paul describes Christians who have died as being “asleep in Christ.”

The ancient Hebrews commonly used “sleep” as a euphemism for death. The accounts of Israel’s kings often end by saying “he slept with his fathers” or “rested with his ancestors” (see 1 Kings 2:10). In our reading for today, Paul uses “sleep” several times to describe death. And he does this in a new way in connection with believing in Christ. Apparently some people in the church at Corinth were questioning whether God had truly raised Jesus from the dead. But of course God has done that, Paul says, adding that if God didn’t raise Jesus, then his followers would be the most pitiable of all people.

Indeed, Jesus is risen! And, as Paul describes it here, all who have died believing in Jesus are merely “asleep” in him. Because of Jesus’ victory over sin and the grave, death has been conquered. Paul describes death as “sleep” because death has been defeated!

Until Jesus returns, we will all die, but through his death and resurrection we have all been made alive in him. And one day he will raise our bodies again to live with him forever.

Thank you, Jesus, for conquering death so that we can live with you—body and soul—forever. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!