But thanks be in God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. (2 Cor. 2:14)
When I was young, anything could become a sword. If it was long and semi-straight, it wouldn’t be long before I’d pick it up and start swinging it at something while visions of regal battle bounced through my head. I always saw myself as the kind of warrior with armor and a coat of arms and a double-edged steel sword, as opposed to the French saber with a feather in my cap.
Anyway, a boys’ imagination always seems to involve conquering something or someone great, and even now this idea of being a good and fearless warrior still captures something in my heart and mind.
Do you know what a triumphal procession is? I was just studying this and was amazed at the ramifications for us as parents.
A triumphal procession was, during the peak of the Roman Empire, the greatest spectacle that anyone could ever see. Many would see such a presentation only once in their life.
It was meant to honor a conquering Roman general upon his return to the capital. People would line the streets and cheer as the caravan would parade through the city.
First would come the state officials and the senate. Then came the trumpeters. Then the spoils of the battle that were taken from the conquered land. Then they would bring pictures and models of conquered citadels and ships. Then an offering of thanks meant to be sacrificed to the idols of the Romans. They would walk the captive princes, leaders, and generals, who were destined for execution soon after the parade, through the streets. Then came the lictors bearing their rods; followed by musicians with their lyres; then the pagan priests swinging censers with sweet smelling incense burning in them. Lastly came the conquering general and his army in which the crowd would cheer wildly in honor of the great victory he had wrought.
This procession would march through every street of the city creating a spectacle and scene that would give every citizen loyal to the kingdom the opportunity to cheer and honor the victors.
The entire city would pause in celebration and honor of the procession.
This is the way Paul saw his missionary journeys. He saw them as triumphal processions in which the redeemed would join in as they rose in honor of Jesus Christ the victor over sin and death.
Paul truly believed that his ministry could not be ignored as it came into a city proclaiming Jesus. Not that he would need to shout or create a spectacle on his own.
Paul believed that the presentation of the Gospel was spectacle enough. It was the sound and smell of victory to the redeemed. He was bringing the announcement. “It is finished! It is done!”
Paul’s ministry was not one of convincing the powers that be or arguing with the skeptics. He saw his missionary journeys as announcements. He was a herald of the Good News of the Gospel in which the redeemed would respond in calling out to the Name of the Lord.
He says, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (V. 17)
A peddler of this time was likened to a merchant of wine that would severely water down the wine to divide it among more customers. These were cheats and swindlers that would shave a little gold off the coins or put a finger on the balance. What peddlers sold were impure which allowed them to sell cheaper than those that sold pure products! Their motivation was money.
And, when Paul says “we” in this verse, he’s not just referring to him and those closest to him like Silas, Titus, and Timothy. The “we” is broader than that. He’s including those that agree with him. Him and those that agree with him. This is a general “we” to all those that represent the Gospel in sincerity; not watering it down to make it easier to swallow.
This is how this message includes all of us today. Moms and dads who earnestly desire to disciple our children.
We are not philosophers or teachers trying to convince a bunch of skeptics. We are not trying to build the best argument. On the contrary, we are representatives of a triumphal procession that is announcing the conquest of Jesus over sin and despair. That message is one of hope and peace.
We have no reasonable basis for approaching anyone in our home or out of our home in fear or concern or anxiety. Why do we worry so much? Why do we feel like we are faking it? Why are we trying to build the best argument?
We are representatives of victory. We are the sweet-smelling savor of the victory our Savior has wrought. It is time that we seize that victory and represent it well with all sincerity. Be who you are!
You are a member of the triumphal procession of Christ. As parents, we are called to allow our kids to see us that way.
As Paul says, “...we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37)
I believe that we get caught up in the statistics of how many children walk away from the faith from Christian homes when they get older. Or, we listen to others when they seem to perpetuate the idea of a rebellious teenager that hates his or her parents is inevitable.
I think the triumphal procession is that we stop acting in fear and concern in our home. Our role is not to convince our children that Jesus is the king.
Our role is to announce that Jesus is their king, and then we are to live like it. By our life we are to be a “sweet aroma” of living for the king to those that know and live the closest to us.
So, in a sense, we are not really teaching out of our knowledge of the Bible. We are representing and testifying to the impact of the truths of Jesus Christ on our lives. Think about the difference there.
Don’t get caught in thinking that you need to do everything perfect. That is part of being in the triumphal procession of Jesus Christ. We are redeemed, not perfect. Sure, we strive to be perfect, but we never will be.
And you are not prepared. You are in over your head. That’s part of being in the triumphal procession as well. You want to be prepared and strive to be prepared, but you can’t be without Christ. He covers the gap because it is not your strength but his strength that makes you capable.
I believe God wants us a little uncomfortable; a little needy; not perfect; and feeling like we don’t quite know enough. But, even with that, we are still part of the triumphal procession.
Do you know what makes it a triumphal procession? It is not the fact that we are there. It is because Jesus is there. It would not be a triumphal procession without him. Therefore, it is time to live with that truth in mind. We are not the underdogs. We are the victors.
This means that we parent from a position of strength, not weakness.
What does this mean? Well, that is for next week.