Our Triumph in Jesus Christ

Our Triumph in Jesus Christ

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Paul dealt with criticism from the Corinthian Christians, who said he was unreliable and fickle because his travel plans had unexpectedly changed. Earlier, Paul carefully explained himself and his reasons for not arriving when he had previously planned. More than anything, he wanted the Corinthian Christians to know he was following Jesus Christ like a soldier in an army follows their general. Like any organized person, Paul made his travel plans, but more importantly he was a follower of Jesus Christ.

Our Triumph in Jesus Christ

To illustrate the point, Paul said that Jesus always leads His people in triumph. The illustration used an image from the Roman world, presenting Jesus as the victorious, conquering general in a triumphal parade. A Roman triumphal parade was given to successful generals when they returned from their conquests.

For a person in the ancient world, a Roman Triumph was probably the greatest pageant, the greatest spectacle, they would ever see. Today we’re used to see amazing sights and spectacular productions on screens or in person. In ancient times, such things were both rare and amazing.

In a Roman Triumph, the focus was on the victorious general who came through the streets of Rome to the Capitol. In the parade, first walked the government officials and the senators through the streets richly decorated. Then came a procession of trumpeters, followed by those carrying spoils taken from the conquered countries. After that were pictures of the defeated lands with models of the vanquished fortresses and ships. Then came a white bull for sacrifice, followed by prisoners in chains: princes, leaders, generals who would soon be executed. After them were more government officials, then musicians, and priests bearing fragrant incense. Then the general himself appeared, followed by the army who shouted “lo triumphe!” – the cry of triumph.

This spectacle was a one in a lifetime event, and for most people in the ancient world it was the biggest production they had ever seen.

This was the scene in Paul’s mind. Jesus Christ marched in triumph through the world, and His church marched with Him. Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to realize that he followed his general, Jesus Christ. Paul could see Jesus’ triumphal parade winding its way through the whole Roman Empire, throughout the entire world.

Fragrance, in the form of incense, was common at the Roman triumphal parade. In Paul’s mind, this fragrance is like the knowledge of God, which people can smell as the triumphal parade of Jesus comes by.

Dear brother or sister in Christ, you have a place in the greatest spectacle in all creation: the victory parade of Jesus Christ. Through you, God wants people to see and to “smell” the fragrance of the victory of Jesus.

Look to your victorious general. Follow Him. March in the place He sets you. Rejoice in His victory; He shares it with you.


For more on 2 Corinthians 2, click here

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