In 2016 when the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series for the first time in more than a century, some sources said that five million people lined the parade route and gathered at a downtown rally to celebrate the championship.
Victory parades are not a modern invention. A famous ancient parade was the Roman Triumph, in which victorious generals led a procession of their armies and captives through crowded streets.
Such parade imagery was likely in Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church thanking God for leading believers “as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14). I find it fascinating that in this imagery, followers of Christ are the captives. However, as believers we’re not forced to participate, but are willing “captives,” willingly part of the parade led by the victorious, resurrected Christ. As Christians, we celebrate that through Christ’s victory, He’s building His kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
When we talk about Jesus’s victory on the cross and the freedom it gives believers, we help spread the “aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). And whether people find the aroma to be the pleasing reassurance of salvation or the odor of their defeat, this unseen but powerful fragrance is present everywhere we go.
As we follow Christ, we declare His resurrection victory, the victory that makes salvation available to the world.
What does Jesus’s victory on the cross mean to you? How are you living out the power of His resurrection?
For further study, see christianuniversity.org/NT109-06.
Up to this point in his letter, Paul has alluded to the pain he’s endured, including extreme physical dangers (2 Corinthians 1:8–10) and having to deal with serious divisions in the church (see 1 Corinthians 1:10–17). These divisions may have been caused by the “many” Paul mentions: “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit” (2 Corinthians 2:17). Besides that, a church member had been committing incest (1 Corinthians 5:1–5). God preserved Paul and his co-workers (2 Corinthians 1:10–11), unity was being restored in the church (7:8–13), and they had dealt with the sexual sin (2:5–11). This is why Paul’s letter takes a triumphant turn: “But thanks be to God . . .” (v. 14). He concludes the section by affirming his apostolic authority: “In Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God” (v. 17).