The Triumph of Jesus
We tend to think of the death of Jesus on the Cross as a sad event, which it was. But it was also His victory! The Apostle Peter says that while the body of Jesus was in the grave, His spirit was active:
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison …” – First Peter 3:18-20
The spirit of the Lord Jesus went to the spirits to proclaim His victory! The Greek word translated as "preached," keryssoo (Strong’s G2784), means to herald or proclaim, not necessarily preach or evangelize. The Apostle Paul wrote that had the princes of this world known and understood this victory, “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (First Corinthians 2:8)
The events of the Crucifixion tell of the victory of Jesus, and so that the people of that day would understand, these events were modeled after the Roman Triumph. Several sources of history describe the Roman victory celebration.
The triumph ceremonies began early in the morning and took up a whole day. As part of the triumph, the commander might magnanimously free a prisoner. The victorious general wore a royal purple robe and was given a crown of laurel, the crown of victory. There would be a procession through the city. If the triumphant general had captured a king, he would be part of the procession, but he would be in chains. The procession would end at the Capitoline Hill.
Now, let’s compare the Roman Triumph ceremony to the events in the life of Jesus on the day before Passover, as found in the Gospel of Mark. (author’s emphasis)
The death of the Son of God on the Cross was, indeed, a very sad event. It was sad because He was innocent, and died because of our guilt. But it was His victory! His Resurrection was a glorious event, and it represents our victory! Thank the Lord for His wonderful Plan of Salvation. Praise His name forever!
- The ceremonies began early in the morning. “And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.” – Mark 15:1
- The commander might magnanimously free a prisoner. “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them.” – Mark 15:15
- The victorious general wore a royal purple robe and was given a crown of laurel, the crown of victory. “And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!” – Mark 15:17-18
- There would be a procession through the city. If the triumphant general had captured a king, he would be part of the procession, but he would be in chains. “And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.” – Mark 15:20
- The procession would end at the Capitoline Hill. Ancient sources connect the name “Capitoline” to Latin caput, or “head.” Tradition is that, when laying the foundations for the temple on Capitoline Hill, the head of a man was found. “And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.” – Mark 15:22
- The triumph ceremonies … took up a whole day. “And it was the third hour (9:00 A.M.), and they crucified him.” – Mark 15:25 “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and [asked for] the body of Jesus.” – Mark 15:42-43
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