But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
In Republican Rome, exceptional military achievement merited the highest possible honours. This took the form of The Roman Triumph which was both a civil and religious ceremony held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander.
The Commander was paraded through the city in a four-horse chariot, under the gaze of his peers and an applauding crowd. He wore a crown of laurel and the all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga. He was accompanied by the spoils and captives of his victory. It may have been a happy day for the mighty military leader but it was a day of despair for his captives.
Picture the wounded faces covered in sweat and blood. Picture the despair and hopelessness in their eyes as they faced a future of hunger, torture and agony. Picture the heavy chains they dragged along behind them, chains that bound them to cruel captors and no hope of liberty. Picture those who were chained to the chariot wheels; the only hope of escape is death.
Consider now the triumphal procession of Jesus Christ. Picture the faces of the captives; these are not stained in their own blood but have been washed in the blood of the mighty Commander. They shine now, reflecting the light of the glory of that Commander.
‘And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image’. (2 Cor 3:18)
There are no chains on these captives because ‘you were called to freedom’ (Galatians 5:13). They are bound solely by chords of love. Each captive has a future which is overseen by the Commander Himself.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
And this procession ends in eternal life. Two triumphal processions. One that speaks of despair and death: the other of hope and life. I thank God that it’s the latter one to which we are called.
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