Jesus is our champion who obtained an eternal and all-encompassing triumph over every battle we may face. When we walk in His triumphal procession, we manifest and testify of the eternal victory of the cross, releasing the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Christ to all who witness our triumph in Him.
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)
It’s a simple spiritual truth that from the moment of salvation – of our rebirth in Jesus – we join the triumphal procession of the conquering King. It’s both a promise and the fulfilment of that promise, and it’s an eternal and unending display of the victory that is ours in Jesus. Yet how many believers simply don’t walk around in triumph? How many live defeated lives because they haven’t grasped the full truth and measure of the Gospel of Christ? The cross, with its powerful death and resurrection message, is a victory that is assured, no matter who or how weak we may be. Thanks be to God, indeed, that His triumph isn’t dependent on us at all. It is something in which we share despite our human frailty and propensity to sin. We already have the victory in every battle we may face.
The extent of our triumph in Christ.
Everything that is of God is perfectly perfect and completely complete. The triumph achieved by Jesus through the cross extends to every area of our lives. In simple terms, these can be defined as self, the world, and the powers of darkness. First and foremost, our biggest battle is with self. This is the ‘free will’ part of every human being which desires to live independently of God. It’s the point of origin for most of our wrong choices and self-centred desires. Self if the seat of rebellion against God. Christ’s victory at the cross released the supernatural power of God to overcome. It’s not a self victory but a victory over self. His life and power in us enables us to defeat self and to live by the spirit rather than the flesh. If we establish His triumph over our self-life, the world and Satan have less power.
The world is Satan’s kingdom and was ours until our rebirth. It’s structured and operated in such a way that it facilitates and encourages rebellion against God. His purpose in Christ’s triumph is that we live separated from the world while still in the world. Christ in us is how we overcome the demands and pressures that seek to drive us to rebellion. Finally, the powers of darkness have also been defeated at the cross. They will continue to lie and to try to convince us otherwise, but they’re already vanquished. Anything the enemy throws at us is doomed because Jesus has already destroyed the works of the evil one. That was His purpose, and it is finished. He rose from the dead as a testimony to His eternal triumph and leads us in it to establish it in us and through our lives.
Triumph and our champion.
We can illustrate the work Jesus did on our behalf by digging into a little history. It was common practice in ancient warfare for disputes between two rulers or nobles to be resolved through champions. What this meant, practically, was that each ruler had a champion who was usually the ‘perfect’ fighter. He would represent his king or lord by fighting to defeat the enemy’s champion. The ruler and the people did not enter into the battle at all. The outcome of this single combat determined which side won. The tradition carried with it a certain rank and privilege. It was no small honour to be a king’s champion. It was in some ways an intermediary role which determined the future of both the king and the people. While the people weren’t called upon to fight, their lives and safety often depended on the triumph of the champion.
Jesus, however, is the King who is the champion of His people. He did not remain in the safety of His ‘castle’ and leave our fate to others or ourselves. He left His glory behind and willingly became our champion. His purpose was to triumph – to destroy the works of the evil one in our lives. Those works manifest in spiritual attack, in worldly pressures, and in the ruthless demands of self. Jesus fought as our champion to obtain freedom for us from them all. More than that, He gained an eternal defeat over the enemy. He defeated everything once and for all. It’s a done-and-dusted accomplished fact. Everything else may whisper lies to the contrary, but His triumph is complete, ongoing, and eternal. It cannot be altered, reversed, or diminished. He is the only champion who could gain victory in every area once and for all.
Lead in His triumph.
In Roman times, a triumphal procession had tremendous significance for a victorious commander. The political climate was such that generals and military commanders constantly vied for supremacy. The ‘glory of the Empire’ was simply a way to promote and extend their own glory and power within a corrupt and greedy system. A procession of this nature was usually extravagant and had the sole purpose of exalting the commander in question to greater stature, particularly among the people. It was as much a display of political power as it was of military triumph. The soldiers under the general’s commands took part, their presence an open show of force. Within this procession were also the ‘spoils of war,’ those prisoners, animals, or valuables that had been taken from a defeated enemy. The display of triumph was defined by publicly displaying and humiliating those enslaved by conquest.
Paul very cleverly takes this powerful tradition and turns it around to reveal the heart and nature of Christ. In His triumphal procession, slaves walk in freedom. They are sons and soldiers, liberated from the slavery of the kingdom of Satan and of self. We walk unbound when He leads us in His triumph. Our liberty in Him is the living testimony to His superior victory. Just as God went before to lead His people out of Egypt, so our champion goes before to lead us out of darkness. Each of us shares in His victory. We are there as soldiers, and we’re there to serve Him, but it’s in perfect liberty and love. Each and every one of us is a living, breathing testimony to the all-out defeat of the cross. His triumphal procession reminds us, the world, and the devil that He has already won.
The fragrance of His knowledge and triumph.
What this means in practical terms is that we live to reveal, establish, and manifest the victory of Christ over all things. The moment we are born again, we join His triumphal procession. This is what Satan and the world see when they look at believers. God’s purpose is that all should see the triumph of Christ. This is the knowledge of Him Paul refers to. Our powerful, liberating truth is that Jesus has already overcome, once and for all, and releases His power into our lives to establish that on earth. It’s a sweet fragrance because it’s an act of worship to live our lives in His triumphal procession. Triumph is not something we do now and then but a way of life that constantly manifests the supernatural victory of the cross. We don’t march in rank and file but live in ongoing victory.
The knowledge of Christ is essentially the truth of the Gospel – the full measure of salvation that Jesus came to bring to humanity. His triumph isn’t simply a spiritual triumph over evil and sin and the devil. This is a powerful part of the Gospel but it’s not the limit of the Gospel. Jesus came to save, heal, and deliver. His victory manifests in those three areas which, together, cover every possible human need. They are interactive because we’re dynamic, complex creatures – wonderfully and fearfully made. A triumph which is only of the spirit is beyond measure. But Christ’s work is complete. His triumph includes all. With each victory we live and manifest in our lives, we proclaim His triumph. But we also release the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Christ – our testimony to the world of who He is and what He accomplished.
Establishing and manifesting the triumph of Jesus.
Our Roman triumphal procession can be misleading if we focus only on the grandeur it portrayed. These events were always the culmination of an extended military campaign which brought glory and honour to the commanders and so to the army as well. Christ’s triumph, however, has a glory all its own. It’s not only about the ‘big’ victories but also about the small. It’s an ongoing parade of the power of Jesus in every situation. Our victories range from the tiniest temptation to the full-scale onslaught of spiritual attack. In Christ, every victory is a bold and powerful reminder to self, the world, and the devil that His is a living victory because its supernatural and ongoing. It’s not restricted to circumstance or limited by our abilities. The triumph of Christ is the sum total of every single victory established and manifested in the lives of the children of God.
Sweet Saviour, we acknowledge You this morning as our King Champion. Thank You that You set aside Your majesty to take on every battle we may face and gain the victory for us. Help us to hold fast to You and to the truth that You have already triumphed. By Your grace, Lord, help us to walk in victory. Lead us in triumph in every detail of our lives so that the world may receive the knowledge of You. Be a sweet fragrance of victory in and through us so that we may live to reveal Your eternal power and glory.