This Sunday’s devotion focuses on the Old Testament Reading and comes from a sermon Luther preached on May 31, 1545, as printed in Luther’s Works, Volume 58 (Sermons V).
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In our devotional reading, Luther discusses Paul’s reference to Isaiah 25:8 recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:54–57. In this verse, Isaiah points ahead to the coming Christ. Paul was a witness to this prophecy coming true. In His resurrection, Jesus won victory over death for all who believe in Him, for all eternity!
First, [Paul] puts forward a passage from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 25 [:8]: Absorpta est mors in victoriam, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” It is clear that this speaks of the resurrection of the dead, for just before this, the prophet says: “He”—Christ, the true God—“will on this mountain put away the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations” [Isa. 25:7]. When the dead are buried, they are covered in a shroud. Such a covering is spread throughout the world, for death spares no man but takes all of them away. But our Lord God will remove this covering and shroud. That is, He will make the dead to live, in the resurrection of the dead, “for He will swallow up death forever” [Isa. 25:8] so that death will be no more, but there will be only life. The Lord of hosts will accomplish this, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary’s Son, true God, praised eternally.
St. Jerome translates: Praecipitavit mortem in sempiternum. [“He has cast down death forever.”] The Septuagint translates: Devoravit mors praevalens. [“Overpowering death has devoured.”] Some translate: Absorbuit mortem in finem. [“He swallowed up death to the end.”] But St. Paul translates best of all: Absorpta est mors in victoriam, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” that is, death is utterly and entirely swallowed up. On that day, when this mortal is clothed with immortality, then this word, too, will be fulfilled, so that we who believe in Christ will sing with all the saints and elect of God: “Death is swallowed up in victory”; death is now laid low and has no more power. Now this word is always and continually being fulfilled, for death is being swallowed up and perishes so far as the soul is concerned through the Gospel and through faith in Christ. However, on that day it will be completely fulfilled, for death will be swallowed up and will perish according to the body as well through the resurrection of the flesh. To be sure, it was fulfilled fifteen hundred years ago and completed in Christ, but on that day it will also be fulfilled and completed in us.
Devotional reading is from Luther’s Works, Volume 58 (Sermons V), page 151 © 2010 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.