Hungry, Hungry Hippos is a great game. When I was a small kid, this was one of my favorite games. If you’re not familiar with the game, you control a plastic hippo. You push a lever (its tail) for it to stretch its neck out, bring its mouth down, and then retract its head and neck. What are you trying to catch? Marbles, and the more the better. The winner of the game is the one who captures the most marbles. I got to be really good at Hungry, Hungry Hippos. After all, there is really only one strategy and that’s to get that head out there as fast as possible. The reason is that the playing area is rather small and there are up to four hippos, meaning up to four players, arranged around a square. If you were slow as the marbles got knocked around, you missed out. But if you were really fast, you could completely outclass the competition. So I practiced. I practiced a lot. But for me it wasn’t practice. It was all about watching my hippo gulp down those marbles. And you know what? Years later I played the game again, this time as an adult, and found that simple pleasure that comes from watching those marbles disappear. I loved watching them get swallowed up. Apparently, that hasn’t changed.
For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:53-58, NASB
Death is a marble. Christ’s death on the Cross is the hippo. And that marble got swallowed up in one big gulp. Now it is important to remember that when Scripture talks about death, it’s usually talking about spiritual death, and that’s the case here. When Christ went to the Cross, he earned a victory neither you or I could win. And that victory destroyed death. It slaughtered sin. It liquidated the Law. Those things which condemn us and separate us from God were dealt their own death blow. And it’s all thanks to Jesus. This should encourage us. This should push us forward. This should light us up and make us want to celebrate His goodness and His mercy. That’s why Paul writes for us to be steadfast and immovable. He exhorts us to always be working for the Lord, for the work that we do is not in vain. There is an eternal life awaiting us. There is a heavenly place set aside for us. Christ Himself has gone away to prepare it.
Feeling down? Feeling the weight of the week already? Then think about Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Remember that Jesus Christ earned a victory that we can celebrate in. Yes, this life is full of trials, but the life to come won’t be. And we have that second life, that eternal life, because our Savior went to the Cross and died for us. When He did, He took sin upon Himself and it died right along with Him. But He rose again, and offered Himself in our place to the Father. Sin? It didn’t make it. Christ conquered it. And if we are His, it is conquered for us. Forever beaten. And because sin is beaten, so is death. Death is defeated. It has no hold on us. And that’s something to rejoice about every time.