There are all sorts of startling statements in the Bible, aren’t there? For example, Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am,” making the claim that he is eternal, that he’s always existed. That’s startling. Similarly, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one,” Again, that’s startling. Or we think of the words of the Lord’s Supper: “This is my body, this is my blood.” Wow! That’s a startling statement to be sure! And we could list many, many more.
In 2Corinthians 2:14, Paul startles us. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.” (NIV84) God says he’s doing … what? He’s leading us in triumphal procession. And God says he’s doing it … when? Always!
So I think back to my past week, remembering my oh-so-many failures. You too? I[KT1] think about the times I was stressed, the times that I didn’t get done what I thought I needed to get done. I think about the times when I said things which I regret, when I failed to say things which should have been said. I think about how I’ve failed to love people, failed to honor God, failed to be thankful for the great things God has done for me, etc. If my week was a “parade,” I would have thought that I was marching in it not thankfully, as part of the winning side, but rather that I was being forced to march in it as part of the losing side!
But what does God say? He says that he is always leading us in triumphal procession in Christ! Not sometimes, not most of the time. Always! And yes, that included this past week!
Oh it’s true that we failed, that we sinned. But remember whom we trust in! We trust in Jesus, the one who went to the cross, the one who lived in our place, the one who died in our place, and most importantly, the one who rose in our place! We follow the ultimate conqueror, we follow the ultimate winner!
And, oh yeah. Jesus’ life didn’t always look like a victory procession either, did it! As he’s standing in the Garden of Gethsemane, looking down at his snoozing disciples, He didn’t look like much of a victor. As he’s taken captive, beaten, crucified, he doesn’t look like a winner at all. Even after the resurrection, what are his followers doing? Why, they’re coming out to finish the burial, they’re hiding in a locked room, they’re full of troubles and doubts and worries and wonderings. Where are the “wins?” Where’s the “triumph?”
And God says what? God says, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ!” Those words – which were true for Paul – are just as true for you, pastor. No, your life and mine may not feel like a triumphal procession, our own assessment of ministry may not seem like triumphal procession. BUT! Where will your life ultimately end? Your life will ultimately end in the glories of heaven! You will stand in glory next to Jesus your Savior! You will have glory which will be never-ending! And day by day, God is leading you to that place.
Which means what? It means that your life is indeed a triumphal procession! Always! It sounds startling. It is startling. But, it’s true!
And so we keep moving into another week. What will it bring? God alone knows.
But no matter what it brings, this truth will remain: God will be leading you in triumphal procession. That’s startling, absolutely.
But thank God, it’s also true, guaranteed by the same Savior who – startlingly! – promised to rise from the dead, then kept his promise. He’ll keep this promise, too.
And so off we go, to another week of triumphal procession!