By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador
"Pauhua ake e ia ki raro nga rangatiratanga me nga mana, whakakitea nuitia ana e ia, a waiho ana e ia taua ripeka hei mea whakataka mana i a ratou."
"‘Ua tu‘u‘eseina e ia o ali‘i sili ma faipule, ‘ona fa‘aalia mai lea o i latou ‘ia iloa uma, ‘ua manumālō fo‘i o ia ‘iā i latou i lea lava mea."
"And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
In Colossians 2:6-8, Paul has been saying: be captivated by Christ. Don’t be captured by Roman political power or deceptive philosophies and the powers that drive them. In verses 13-15, he explains why.
In verses 13 and 14, Paul gives us two reasons to be captivated by Christ. First, because at the cross, God has made us alive with Christ. And second, at the cross, God forgave us all of our sins.
At the cross, God cancelled all of our charges; all of our legal indebtedness that once condemned us has been nailed to the cross. On the cross, as Christ was crucified, pitied, and mocked, God was forgiving and cancelling sin.
He was cancelling our shame and our debt through the death of his son.
In Paul's argument, verses 13 and 14 are a left and right hook. Verse 15, then, is the knockout punch. "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him".
There is intense irony here. Roman crucifixion is purposefully designed to strip a human of their dignity. It is designed to strip any ounce of mana from a person.
Crucifixion deliberately takes a person’s identity and dignity apart piece by piece. It was the ultimate statement of Rome's political power and a cruel evidence of the destructive power of human and demonic authorities. The cross of Christ, with all its shame and indignity, could have been the ultimate victory of this world over God.
But at the very moment Roman power and the powers and authorities thought they were making a spectacle of God’s plans, Paul says that at that moment, God was shaming them. He was making a spectacle of them.
God—in Christ, at the cross—has said: all powers of this world are limited. All the powers and principalities and authorities have been triumphed over at the cross.
The image behind verse 15 is the triumphal procession of Roman legions into Rome. Thousands of soldiers would lead their captives and spoils into the city. The pageantry and power on display was remarkable.
What Paul is showing is this: the very moment Roman political power and the demonic powers and authorities looked like they were triumphing over God’s power at the cross, was the very moment God’s power in Christ triumphed over them.
As the people of God, we can be quietly confident. At the cross, God displayed his incredible power through the death and resurrection of his son. I would encourage us all to rest our hearts and our hopes—for our future and the futures of our families and societies—in the one who died and rose again from the cross.