The Parade of the Cross

This lenten season, I’ve been trying to meditate on just what it was that Jesus accomplished when he was nailed to the cross that Friday so many years ago. Paul’s letter to the Colossians gives us an interesting insight–and one we probably don’t often think about. In Colossians 2:15, while speaking about the reality of Christ nailed to the cross, he says that Jesus “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.” In the original Greek, the term Paul uses for “public example” is actually the word ”parade”. So literally, he says that Christ paraded the principalities and powers of Satan when he was on the cross.

Interestingly, it was the Romans who invented the concept of parades. For them, parades primarily served the purpose of showing off their military victories to other residents of the empire. One of the major features of the Roman parades entailed marching members of the defeated party through the city stripped naked in order to publicly shame them. Indeed, crucifixion itself was a sort of mini parade in which Rome was able to publicly shame any who dared cross her.

But here, Paul says that when Jesus hung on the cross, naked and shamed, he was, in fact, making a “parade” out of the principalities and powers of Satan. This is completely counter-intuitive! Although it seemed as though Jesus himself was being shamed, what the Romans could not see, and what we often miss as well, is that Jesus was actually parading the defeat of the powers of death by his own death on the cross. Death itself was hung on the cross and displayed powerless for all to see. This, I think, is a profound meditation, and one that I certainly have to spend some more time chewing and praying over.  If this is the reality of Jesus when he accepts his suffering in love, what might God be able to accomplish when we embrace our own crosses?

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