We have a golf cart at our church that the staff uses to move around campus on occasions. It can sit for several days, sometimes for a week or more before we use it. That’s long enough for wasps to find it be a suitable home for their home.
Last week I told our office manager that I had some business in a couple of the buildings on campus. I had several items to deliver, and the cart was helpful. The last thing she told me when I picked up the key was to check the cart for wasps.
I deposited the items in the back of the cart, did a quick look for wasps, and seeing none attempted to sit down in the driver’s seat. My butt had not even touched the seat before a wasp came off a hidden nest like a kamikaze and stung me on the tip of my nose.
I said a few things unbecoming of a preacher and walked around, holding my face in my hands before I began to look for the nest that I had overlooked. My office manager must have heard my painful moans. She didn’t even have to wonder what happened.
She came out of the door with a can of wasp spray. She was kind enough not to say what she had to be thinking: “I tried to warn him.” “Men, you can’t tell them anything.” Or “It’s his own fault.”
I could have easily seen the nest had I taken the time to inspect the cart from all sides, but from the driver’s side, it was hidden. My stinging nose reminded me the rest of the day how much I should have listened to her advice and been more thorough with my search. Thankfully, that sting just lasted for a day.
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that sin stings. Worse than that, sin is the sting that results in death.
God tried to warn Adam and Eve about the results of disobeying Him and following their way.
Eve didn’t check out the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil enough. Perhaps she looked at it too much. Just staying clear of it might have been best knowing it was off-limits. There was nothing about it that could help her or Adam, but the fruit looked pleasing and besides, the serpent said that if she ate the fruit, she would be like God, knowing good and evil.
But after she and Adam ate the fruit, they felt the sting of sin. They felt shame. They lost access to the garden. They learned the meaning of pain and suffering and ultimately, the sting of death.
When I was a boy, I got stung by a wasp, and my grandfather took some tobacco from his cigarette and wet it with his spit and put it on my wound and the nicotine worked as medicine to relieve my pain.
When we are in pain, sometimes relief comes from the most unlikely of places.
The most unlikely place anyone would have looked to for relief from the sting of sin was a cross –an executioner’s cross. But it was Jesus’ death on the cross that paid the sin debt for all of humanity.
But what can relieve the pain from death? Paul said there’s only one thing. Our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die. Our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
When that happens, we can say, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (We can ask,) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54a-55).
While Jesus died for the sins of humanity, it was his resurrection that swallowed up death and makes immortal life possible for each of us.
The resurrected Jesus gives us hope that this is possible for all of us. Paul said that Jesus’ resurrection is the first of the great harvest of all those who have died.
I don’t know anything that stings more than death. But I don’t know a greater medicine than the hope of the resurrection.
So, I place my life firmly in this hope. If it is for naught, what have I lost? But if you refuse to hold on to this hope only to discover that it was true, the sting of death will remain with you for all eternity, and then you will have lost everything.
Photo Credit: Myllu.llu.edu