“Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.” (Ps. 119:18).
“WONDERFUL THING” IN THIS PASSAGE – Paul uses a scene in today’s chapter that was familiar to the people of the Roman empire: A victorious general returns to Rome in his chariot at the head of a triumphal procession. He is followed in this grand parade by the warriors through whom he won the battle and by the conquered enemy soldiers. Clouds of fragrant incense rise from the procession in thanksgiving to the gods. This picture reminds Paul of his own situation and ours:
“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:14-15)
Jesus Christ, the “Commander of the Lord’s army,”1 descended from the kingdom of Heaven into this rebellious world on a mission of conquest. On the cross and from the empty tomb, He utterly defeated the forces of Satan. Then He returned to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to consolidate his gains on earth, conquering the hearts of many of us rebels. We have laid down our arms and gratefully surrendered to His lordship.
One day, He will stand before the Father and “present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”2 Rightly did He pray on the eve of His victory, “I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed.”3
Christ’s conquest is complete over all creation, and “God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.4
“WONDERFUL THING” IN MY LIFE – My greatest privilege is to bow my knees and my will and my mind to Him and to rejoice in His complete triumph in my life.
Christ has triumphed over me. – I proudly take the place of one of those conquered rebels, whom He leads back into His kingdom. I gladly lay all my old allegiances aside, especially my allegiance to myself, and I bow to His eternal lordship. And, as often as the old me raises its ugly head to re-assert its “rights,” may He conquer me freshly.
Christ has triumphed through me. – I humbly take the place of one of His foot-soldiers, whom He has privileged to serve in His army and to have a small part in His victory. May He make my next orders clear and my execution of them dependent every moment on His strength, not mine. And may He keep my eyes so focused on Him that no bystander can long look at me without following my gaze to my glorious Lord.
Christ has triumphed in me. – May He do something inside me that is much more and much deeper than just acting like Him or talking like Him. May He infuse my life with His own to such an extent that a few people around me would say, “There’s just something about Jeff that makes me think of Jesus.” That’s what Paul calls “the fragrance of Christ.” My heart’s deepest desire is that I might spread “the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
1 Josh. 5:14. 2 Jude 1:24 NIV. 3 John 17:4-5. 4 Phil. 2:9-11.