But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession,
and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2 : 14
One of the things I love about the Bible is that there is so much to discover each and every time I venture through its pages. God is always in the business of revealing Himself through His Word regardless of how many times I’ve read it before.
That’s why it’s so important to be fully engaged during times of prayer and study. For instance, the Apostle Paul makes a brief mention of a “triumphal procession” without actually unpacking what he means. At the time of the writing of 2 Corinthians, the audience would have known the reference, but for you and me, it takes a little extra digging- and it’s SO worth it.
In the verses immediately preceding the passage, Paul explains that he traveled to Troas to preach because God opened a door for him to do so. Yet, when he couldn’t find his friend Titus, he was troubled (actually, that’s probably guy-talk for ‘freaking out’).
When I find myself freaking out, God’s sovereignty and faithfulness aren’t typically at the forefront of my mind. However for the Apostle, he allowed his knowledge of God’s character to inform his response rather than giving in to an emotional reaction.
Paul could have very easily thrown in the towel and tapped out in Troas when he didn’t find Titus. Sure he came, he preached, he was faithful and yet things weren’t working out the way he thought they would. So what does he do? He presses on!
And not only does the Apostle persevere, he does so with a conviction that comes from his confidence in God’s character. God has been faithful, God is sovereign, and God is good, and Paul knows that his trust finds much better footing in Christ than in his own understanding and power.
So by the time we get to verse 14, it is clear that Paul’s remarks aren’t just some cheap platitudes that he saw on a bumper sticker while cruising the Jerusalem Highway on his tricked-out camel. The Apostle’s words don’t come from his circumstances, but rather in spite of his present experiences.
Paul travels afar while spreading the Gospel and looking for Titus. He searches desperately and still cannot find his friend. And instead of blaming God or giving up on his mission he keeps going. He travels to Macedonia. Why? Paul had a conquering faith in Jesus Christ.
That’s why the Apostle begins verse 14 with, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession.” He doesn’t accuse God or attack God or turn his back on God. Paul thanks God. And then he reminds himself (and us, his readers) of the reality of Jesus Christ’s Kingship. Paul refers to the “triumphal procession.”
At the time, Rome was in power in the region and the Roman army was fierce. Whenever a Roman general would conquer a new land and kill at least 5,000 enemy soldiers, the Emperor would honor him with a Triumphal Procession.
This was the equivalent of a “ticker tape parade” in New York City (they were quite popular from the 1920s-1960s). The general would ride through Rome on a golden chariot while surrounded by his top men and displays of the spoils of battle. Furthermore, the victorious general’s sons would walk behind the chariot and share in the victory.
When Paul gives thanks to God and declares that Jesus ALWAYS leads us in triumphal procession he’s actually saying much more than meets our modern eye. We do not have to live as non-believers live- apprehensive about the future, worrying about tomorrow and controlled by the ever-changing tide of circumstances and situations.
One thing always holds true. Jesus Christ is Lord. He is faithful, sovereign and good. He came to a foreign land (the Earth), conquered Satan, sin and death, died on our behalf, rose again in victory and now leads us in victory.
Christ’s victory was the deciding factor in Paul’s response in Troas. And the Apostle remembered that because Jesus lives, our hope can only be found in Him.
As we enter into the Holiday Season, many of us will come together with friends and family members that are difficult to be around. We may go to Thanksgiving Dinner or Christmas Eve gatherings hoping to share the love of Christ and end up getting the cold shoulder. But we must never give up. Remember, you walk behind the golden chariot of the Conquering Christ in a Victorious Procession.
See You In The Round,
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."