Part 5: While wisdom is preferable to foolishness, it is the Gospel, and not wisdom that overcomes the sting of death.

Photo by Justine Blick. 2012.

IX. The Sermon: Wise Dead, or Foolish Dead is Still Dead – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 – Part 5.

The Big Idea: While wisdom is preferable to foolishness, it is the Gospel, and not wisdom that overcomes the sting of death.


I. Recognize the benefits of wisdom (vv. 12-14a).

It is wise to know we are going to die and die one time.

II. Recognize the limits of wisdom (vv. 14b-15).

Wisdom cannot keep us from dying.

III. Recognize the vanity of your legacy (vv. 16-17).

If I am going to die, the logic of this passage says, then what will my legacy be? That must be how I will cheat death – my legacy that I leave. This too is folly as Solomon said or flatulence, as Martin Luther has said. Wisdom cannot overcome the fact that we are forgetful people. We will forget even Steve Jobs and all that he did, for instance. Therefore, Solomon said that all this is true and hated life. There is a tombstone for both the wise and the fool. He notes that this doesn’t seem right. We need leaders like Mother Theresa and Steve Jobs, yet they all die.

IV. Rejoice in and embrace the only solution (cf.: 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

Paul’s passage: 54 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.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The only solution is found in wisdom that is not under the sun. In fact, this wisdom is called foolishness in compared how

It is through God’s “foolishness”, death on the cross, that death is defeated. God defeats the wisdom of the world and defeats death by his “foolishness” – namely the beauty of the mercy of God on the old and rugged cross.

What about you? People think that Kyle preaches your funeral. He doesn’t really. You preach your own funeral. He just puts a bow on it. In the foolishness of the gospel, death has been overcome!

The passage:
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

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