13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
I am often blessed and instructed by our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Orthodox Church, especially in their understanding of the cross of Christ. When the Eastern Orthodox think of Christ crucified, they think not only of his suffering and shame, but think of him as Christ the Victor, reigning in triumph from the Tree. The emphasis of Orthodox preaching and instruction on the cross is that it is Christ’s victory over all the powers of evil. St. John Chrysostom, (A. D. 349–407), Archbishop of Constantinople, said of Jesus on the cross, “I call him King, because I see him crucified.”
In today’s text, the Apostle Paul also proclaims Christ as Victor. Paul says that on the cross “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.” In these words Paul is drawing on what was then the familiar image of a Roman commander, triumphant in battle, in his war chariot leading his triumphal procession through the streets of Rome. In his victory parade there follow after him, the prisoners of war, vanquished, defeated, rendered obedient to him.
To the world, the cross of Christ was his defeat, but Paul proclaims it as Christ’s chariot of victory. At the cross Jesus routed the enemy and stripped the forces of darkness of their powers. The battle was fierce, the costs infinite, but in his dying Christ triumphed over the enemy, and all enemies of our souls.
On this the day that we call the “Lord’s Day,” let us celebrate our Lord’s
triumph, and our triumph in him: “Thanks be to God, who in Christ always
leads us in triumphal procession” (I Corinthians 2:14).
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,
Sing the ending of the fray;
Now above the Cross, our trophy,
Sound the loud triumphal lay;
Tell how Christ, the world’s redeemer,
As a victim won the day.
– Venantius Fortunatus (A. D. 530-609)
Soaking in Scripture…
Today’s Andy Moments…