Even the ancient pagan stories bear witness to the universal human longing to overcome death. In the Aeneid Aeneas begs for permission to visit the realm of the dead to consult his father. In response he is told by the prophetess:
The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies. (Dryden trans.)
Indeed! It is easy to enter the realm of the dead. To come back out, that is the trouble. We gather in the morning to worship the one who did just this, who entered death and emerged triumphant enabling all his people to do the same.
The prophetess tells Aeneas that only a few in Greco-Roman mythology have been able to re-emerge from the realm of the dead and they were all semi-divine sons of gods. In fact only one conquered death, the fully divine Son of God. And, now He has made it possible for all those who believe in him to be made children of God who will also re-emerge from the realm of the dead.
“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. (1 Cor 15:54b-57)