by Andrew Lansdown
At this year’s 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing on April 25 and at Easter we recall those who died for us
In April Australians celebrate two important holidays – Easter and Anzac. A moment's reflection reveals several striking similarities between these two memorial occasions.
What are we to learn from ANZAC Day and Easter?On Anzac Day we remember events that happened long ago - almost a century ago. We think of Australian soldiers who died in the First World War, and in subsequent wars. On Good Friday we also remember an event that happened long ago – almost twenty centuries ago. We call to mind the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On Anzac Day, local communities conduct simple ceremonies in remembrance of the deaths of our soldiers. We gather to lay wreaths at stone monuments and read names from brass plaques. On Good Friday Christian communities also conduct simple ceremonies in remembrance of the death of their Saviour. They gather to break bread and drink wine to remember the Lord's Supper. The bread represents Christ's broken body, and the wine represents His shed blood. Like war plaques and monuments, these emblems are a reminder "lest we forget".
On Anzac Day we remember how the soldiers laid down their lives for their friends. On Good Friday we remember how the Lord Jesus laid down His life for His friends. Greater love has no man than this.
On Anzac Day we recall how the soldiers died to save us from a dreadful tyranny - the tyranny of fascism, National Socialism (NAZIism) and communism. On Good Friday we recall how the Lord Jesus also died to save us from a dreadful tyranny – the tyranny of Satan, sin and death.
These are some of the similarities between the two remembrance days. But there are also several important differences.
On Anzac Day we remember men who died, and are still dead. However, on Good Friday we remember a Man who died, but is now alive! Jesus did not remain in the grave but rose triumphantly from the dead. So while Easter is a sombre occasion, it is not a sad one. We commemorate Christ's death, certainly. But more than this, we celebrate His resurrection and anticipate His return!
Another difference is that on Anzac Day there is no communion with the fallen soldiers. They are absent. But on Good Friday there is communion with the Lord Jesus. By the power of His Spirit, He is present in and among those who love Him. He is in our midst.
The soldiers laid down their lives for their friends. So did Jesus. But the difference is that He also died for His enemies. While we were still sinners, hostile in mind and doing evil deeds, Christ died for us.
Although many soldiers lost their lives, none of them set out to die. They all hoped to survive. They quite properly intended to win the war by killing the enemy. The Lord Jesus, however, intentionally set out to sacrifice his life. His death was not accidental but deliberate. He came not to kill his enemies but to be killed by and for them. His sacrificial death was not only necessary for victory over evil, it was the victory.
Finally, there is this difference: At best, the soldiers won us a partial and temporary freedom. But the Lord Jesus won us a full and permanent freedom. Jesus sets us free from the penalty and power of sin, now and forever.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. On the first Good Friday, He died on the cross in our place, bearing our sins and suffering our punishment. In this way He made amends to God for all the wrong that we have done and said and thought. That God accepted His sacrifice for us is demonstrated by the fact that God raised Him from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Because of what happened at Easter, everyone who calls out in genuine sorrow for sin and faith to Jesus will be saved from the slavery of Satan and the punishment of sin and the fear of death.
"Oh, Lord Jesus, forgive me, save me, govern me!" Any person who earnestly cries such a prayer will receive forgiveness for sins, friendship with God, purpose in life, and life in eternity.
Thank God for the soldiers who died for us in the wars. We rightly remember them on Anzac Day. But thank God all the more for His Son who died for us at Calvary. What a victory our Saviour won for us on the cross! We ought to remember it with awe and gratitude every day, not just at Easter. •