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 (ESV)
Roman military triumphs were often followed by elaborate processions down the streets of Rome. There were certain criteria by which a conqueror had to comply to warrant such exaltation. Among the requirements was that the victory had to be decisive with a large number of enemy combatants killed. The victory had to put an end to hostilities and extend the territory of the state.
On the day of the procession the conqueror was dressed in fine apparel and rode in the finest chariot drawn by four horses. The people lined the streets with palm branches and waived them in the air as they shouted for joy over the great conquest and in honor of their conqueror. The presence of the town officials at the parade was also a great honor to the conqueror.
As part of the parade the conqueror displayed the spoils of war. All of the precious metals and artifacts were displayed for the people to see. Even the prisoners of war were forced to march in the parade. The temples of the gods were opened and decorated with beautiful flowers and incense was burned from the altars. Fragrant spices were burned in the streets so all the people could smell the odor of victory.
The procession ended with sacrifices and offerings being made to the gods and was followed by a feast in which the public was invited to attend. It is not too unreasonable to believe that the prisoners of war were made to look on as the people feasted with the king. A table was prepared for the victors in the presence of their enemies. It was a grand celebration.
Maybe this triumphal procession was going through the mind of Paul when he penned the words of 2 Corinthians 2:14. The death of Jesus on the cross and subsequent resurrection resulted in a decisive victory over the enemy Satan and extended the territory of God’s kingdom (Matthew 12:28). Paul wrote to the Colossians, He (God) disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Christ). (Colossians 2:15 ESV) Through faith in Jesus we became partakers of that victory. John said, For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4 ESV) God has certainly prepared a table for us in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5).
The life Jesus gave on the cross was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). When we are in him, Christ through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere we go.
Christ’s victory over sin and death is worthy of our highest praise. We too can wave our palm branches (lift our hands) in praise and allow the fragrance of Christ to be spread to others by the way we live our lives and testify of his goodness. Our enemies of sin and death were too much for us to overcome. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV)
Has Jesus delivered you from the consequences of sin and death? Are you the fragrance of God to those around you?
Scriptures for meditation: