Daily Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14:
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
Question: How can we be victorious and triumph in life?
Answer: It is clear in the Greek… Grace. When we read verse fourteen we might think the answer is “thanks”. I don’t think that is what Paul meant because in all of Scripture there is only three other places (charis) is translated as thanks. 130 times it is translated as grace. In this particular text it reads (de charis) or but grace. If you had a setback in your life “but grace” will lead you to triumph. But the grace of God always leads to my triumph in Christ.
How is that possible? Good question and that is found in the second half of the same verse, part B-
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession.” This doesn’t mean what you probably think it means. The word translated “lead in triumphal procession” (thriambeuō) refers to what a great Roman general does when he leads in captivity those enemies he has conquered and takes them to their death or to slavery.
Paul alludes to one of the most spectacular celebrations in times of antiquity, the Roman Triumph. Awarded by the senate to honor a victorious general, the Triumph was essentially an enormous parade through the heart of Rome. It was designed to display the glory of the Roman general and offer thanks to Jupiter for granting the victory. The imagery of 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 actually represents Paul’s theology of the cross in its most vivid and arresting form. As the analogy of the Roman triumph and the incense-filled parade route continues in verses 15 and 16, we find Paul illustrating his struggle in ministry to the Corinthians as the means through which the aroma of the crucified Christ is mediated to those around him. Paul understood the paradox that God’s strength is most potently displayed through his own weakness and suffering.
Paul’s words may be difficult to comprehend but what Paul is saying is that God ministers more powerfully through our tragedies than our triumphs. It is the broken vessel that reveals the treasure within (2 Cor. 4:7-12).
So in Colossians, Paul says God leads the devil in triumph, and in 2 Corinthians, he says that God leads Paul in triumph. Both have been defeated in their rebellion against God. In other words, Paul was defeated and taken captive; but he was brought to faith and forgiven and justified and made a glad and willing servant of the greatest General who ever was.
So Paul pictures his missionary life and ministry as spreading a fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. In other words, when we suffer as missionaries in the service of Christ, it’s like Christ suffering for the lost, and God smells this fragrance of sacrificial love and it pleases him.
Smelling Christ as the aroma of life gives life. So, life has battles everyday. There may be the smell of death and defeat all around you, but may I remind you that Christ is the sweet aroma of life and victory. How do you triumph in your life today? You triumph through God’s grace which is Jesus Christ our Lord. His victory is for your battles today. His victory led us to a triumphal procession into new life in Him and an everlasting victory to come.