There is no defeat in the cross. Only triumph is to be found there.
The life of Jesus was a death march. The life of Jesus was a victory parade. Both are true and must be held together. There was no defeat in the righteous life and sacrificial death of Jesus.
The birth of Jesus was a victory.
The escape from the hand of Herod was a victory.
The humanity of Jesus was a victory.
The perfect life of Jesus was a victory.
The triumph over temptation was a victory.
The public baptism of Jesus was a victory.
The teaching of Jesus was a victory.
The healing ministry of Jesus was a victory.
The arrest in Gethsemane was a victory.
The trial and torture of Jesus was a victory.
The crucifixion with criminals was a victory.
The separation from his Father was a victory.
His death on a cross was a victory.
The resurrection was a victory.
His post-resurrection appearing to his followers was a victory.
His ascension was a victory.
Everything in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, even those things that appeared to be defeats, were victories. Each was a victory because each was done in fulfillment of God’s plan. Each was a victory because it was done in fulfillment of prophecy. Christ did all these things as our substitute. He did them all on our behalf. He lived, for us, the life we could have never lived. He won, for us, battles that would have led to our defeat. He suffered, for us, so we would not suffer God’s anger over sin. He conquered, for us, the final enemy, death. Yes, it was a life of suffering and death, but in it all was victory after victory. He came to conquer, and conquer he did. He came to reverse the course of human history, by victory after victory, until he could say, “It is finished.”
The apostle Paul talks about the victorious life of Jesus in Colossians 2:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 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. 2:6–15)
The Son of God left his lofty place and came to earth to suffer and die victoriously so that you would have not only a brand-new identity but also brand-new potential. If you are God’s child, you are more than a husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, neighbor, friend, male, female, young person, older person, worker, retired, and so on. You are a child of a conquering King. You are a son or daughter of a victorious Savior. You have been raised and made alive. You have been forgiven, that is, your record of debt has been canceled. Your penalty was nailed to the cross once and for all. This is how you are now welcomed to live, all because of the victory of Jesus on your behalf.
The cross was a triumph. Sin defeated. Forgiveness granted. Acceptance with God assured. Eternal life guaranteed. Victory now and in the world to come.