Triumphant Loss
Tuesday of Epiphany 4
29 January 2019
The gladiatorial games of the Romans were barbarically bloody affairs. Death was dealt and blood spilled upon arena sands before a howling mob. The gladiators hailed the emperor before the battles began: "Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die salute you."After the slaughter, the trophies of victory were stripped from the bodies of the vanquished and awarded to the triumphant. Those who died were the losers and to the victor go the spoils. Those who died were not victors.
But One who was about to die did triumph through death, pouring out his blood not upon the sands of the arena, but on the wood of the cross, and despoiled of His life and the trophies of His holy and unblemished body. The One in whom deity dwelt bodily, offered up that body to those who would take His body as the spoils of victory. Principalities and powers entered the arena of death with Him and thinking they killed the Lord of life, they strip from Him what He had determined to give over to them by His own choice. In such spoliation there is a giving of life. For He ultimately triumphs by giving over the very thing His enemies are so eager to snatch from Him. The One who loses defeats them. They lose by defeating the one who offers His life. The One who dies becomes the ultimate victor in the arena of death. Unlike those about to die in the arenas of Rome, His triumph is loss and His loss a triumph.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Hilary of Poitiers
"'And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him' (Col 2:13-15). The worldly man cannot receive the faith of the Apostle, nor can any language but that of the Apostle explain his meaning. God raised Christ from the dead; Christ in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. But He made us alive also together with Him, forgiving us our sins, blotting out the bond of the law of sin, which through the ordinances made previously was against us, taking it out of the way, and fixing it to His cross, stripping Himself of His flesh by the law of death, holding up the powers to show, and triumphing over them in Himself. Concerning the powers and how He triumphed over them in Himself, and held them up to show, and the bond, which he blotted out, and the life which He gave us.
"But who can understand or express this mystery? The working of God raises Christ from the dead; the same working of God quickens us together with Christ, forgives our sins, blots out the bond, and fixes it to the cross; He has His flesh plundered, holds up the powers to show, and triumphs over them in Himself. We have the working of God raising Christ from the dead, and we have Christ working in Himself the very things which God works in Him, for it was Christ who died, Himself giving up to plunder His flesh. Hold fast then to Christ the man, raised from the dead by God, and hold fast to Christ the God, working out our salvation when He was to die. God works in Christ, but it is Christ who strips from Himself His flesh and dies. It was Christ who died, and Christ who worked with the power of God before His death, yet it was the working of God which raised the dead Christ, and it was none other who raised Christ from the dead but Christ Himself, who worked before His death, and has His flesh plundered in death."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 9.10
Romans 8:31-39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)
Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the health and well-being of Kevin Siwa, that his heavenly Father would grant him healing
For the lost sheep of the house of Israel, that Christ's word would dwell richly among them leading them from death to life in Him
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that He would preach only the Christ who is victor through loss
Art: MICHELANGELO Buonarroti Isaiah (1509)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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