“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
“He made a public spectacle of them”
“Made a public spectacle of” means to cause someone to suffer public disgrace or shame– “to disgrace in public.” Jesus exposed demonic principalities and powers in a way a general displays his captives or trophies of victory in a triumphal procession. The book of Hebrews uses this word to put Jesus to public shame (He 6:6). We disgrace Jesus in public when we do an end-run around the cross.
Matthew 1:19 uses “public spectacle” of Joseph’s unwillingness to put Mary on public display because she was pregnant before marriage. Cyprian law used this word for an adulteress who had to cut her hair and was subjected to contempt by the community. It connoted the ideas of mocking or exposing.
“Spectacle” is an idiom carrying the idea of public disgrace. The idea is to shame in a clear or publicly known manner. Jesus publicly disgraced evil powers by bearing away sin. Sin was their claim on man. Jesus plainly branded sins and demons as his victims and spoil. He displayed the losers for what they were–failures in the economy of God’s grace.
Our Lord defeated demons publicly on the cross.
Many Christians worry unnecessarily about demons. They believe that demons have some mysterious power that they can unilaterally use to shipwreck the Christian life. They think that they are at the mercy and whim of demonic forces. This passage says that Jesus openly branded demons as victims of the cross. In principle, the cross has already defeated them,
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).