But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
-2 Corinthians 2:14
I’ll never forget when our city’s Major League Baseball team won the World Series. After years of losing seasons, the magic finally happened and the team overcame the odds to win the championship against a storied franchise team. When the team came home from the win, the entire city gathered downtown for a celebration – unlike anything the city had ever seen. Kicking off the celebration was a parade that featured the team being paraded with their trophy held high in the air.
While many of us have been to a parade, few of us will ever be part of a parade of such magnitude. Yet the apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, said that each of us is led in a triumphal procession every day in the Kingdom of God! We celebrate the King Jesus who has truly won the greatest battle ever fought – against sin and death!
While this verse speaks of celebration, Paul uses an interesting term to describe those of us in the parade – captives. Why the use of such negative language? For those living in first-century Rome, triumphal processions were common experiences, yet they were far different from our images of parades.
In Paul’s day, the Roman triumph was a ceremony and religious celebration that was held to publicly celebrate a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in battle. On the day of his triumph, the commander wore a crown of laurel and the all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga that showed his near-divinity and kingship. Throughout the city he would ride in a chariot, leading his army, captives, and the spoils of his war. Those who were captives were certainly heading for slavery or worse – death.
In reminding the Corinthians of this imagery, Paul was reminding the Corinthians that each of them was a spoil of the war that Jesus had won. Each of us who make Jesus our Lord and Savior have become captives in the best possible way – slaves to a true King who doesn’t lead us to death, but to everlasting life! As we walk behind King Jesus the rest of the world will see His glory through our lives, which can often look like the suffering of a prisoner. Yet we know that even if we are slaves of Christ, we are truly free!
Questions For Reflection on 2 Corinthians 2:14
#1 Why do you think Paul speaks of the Christians as being captives or prisoners of Jesus? How does this change the way you view your life with Christ?
#2 Paul says that the world will see the glory of God as a sweet aroma or perfume as He leads us in processional through the streets of the world. Does your life look like someone who is captive to Jesus? Can others “smell” Him on you?
Lord God, I am owned by You through the shed blood and purchase of Jesus Christ on the cross. Thank you that I am not my own, but that You lead me in triumph through the battle You won over death and sin. May my life always be a sweet-smelling aroma that gives glory and honor to You in everything I do. I pledge to follow You all my days in obedience and trust.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.