Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
— Colossians 2:15
A man nailed to the cross, deserted by his friends and left to die would appear to be the image of utter defeat. And yet, it has become the image of triumph, of live renewed. Even in death Jesus was able to defeat the Powers That Be, reveal the system for what it really was, an oppressive system of governance, manned by arrogant, but likely secretly terrified individuals, a system doomed to fall. Immediately following Jesus's death his disciples banded together, grew strong, and began to build a movement far greater than anything that had happened in Jesus's life. These words describe the paradox well:
"These powers, angry at his challenge to their sovereignty, stripped him naked, held him up to public contempt, and celebrated a triumph over him. In one of his most dramatic statements of the paradox of the cross, and one moreover which shows in what physical detail Paul could envisage the horrible death Jesus had died, he declares that, on the contrary, on the cross God was stripping them naked, was holding them to public contempt, and leading them in his own triumphal procession - in Christ, the crucified Messiah. When the 'powers' had done their worst, crucifying the lord of glory incognito on the charge of blasphemy and rebellion, they have overreached themselves. He, neither blasphemer nor rebel, was in fact their rightful sovereign. They thereby exposed themselves for what they were - usurpers of the authority which was properly his. The cross therefore becomes the source of hope for all who had been held captive under their rule, enslaved in fear and mutual suspicion. Christ breaks the last hold that the 'powers' had over his people, by dying on their behalf." 1
Through trust in God and never allowing the enemy to take away his spirit and sense of purpose, Jesus stayed strong into death, and beyond. Others over the centuries have followed his example, spoiling the intent of those in power, and lifting themselves and others to ultimate triumph; Viktor Frankl and Nelson Mandela immediately come to mind. You may recall others.
1 Colossians and Philemon, by N.T. Wright, 2015