The spring of 2012 as my husband and I were discussing what we should do for our upcoming 25th Wedding Anniversary, he asked,
"Where would you like to go to dinner?"
Without a thought I responded, "London sounds like a good place!"
The above picture was taken in Dean's Park, just to the north of Minster Cathedral in York, Great Britain. The Kohima War Memorial was made to honor those members of the British Army's Second Infantry Division, who gave their lives to prevent Japan from invading India during WWII. The words are profound and give me cause to think.
When men and women join our military they do so with the knowledge in the back of their minds that they could, one day see combat. They must also reason, "If I see combat, I may be injured or even die." I know not everyone who signs up is mature enough to reason the act to its final possible conclusion, but when faced with war, most of our soldiers are willing to lay down their lives for others. I find this overwhelming. I can say, I am willing to die for my family, my spouse, my daughters, my son-in-law, and my grandson, but to say I am willing to die for people I don't even know....well, that gets a little disconcerting.
I mean, who are these people I have to be willing to die for? Are they nice? Are they dirty? Do they love their children? Are they abusive? Will they accept me if I move to their country? What if they don't like me? What if they laugh at me and my worthy cause? What if they spit at me? What if they decide, I am a threat? What if they gang up on me? Torture me? Decide I must die?
Isn't that exactly what many of our soldiers are doing? Giving their lives for people they don't know? People who may not care and may, in fact, hate them? I do realize many of the people in countries where our military has a presence are thankful and appreciative for what our soldiers are doing for them. But it is also the case that some of our military personnel have received less than a king's welcome.
In the same way, Jesus signed up for a tour of duty that was significantly lacking in royal perks. He was welcomed by a ragged band of shepherds, who most likely didn't get to shower and spruce up before they came to the stable. He was the son of a craftsman, not a prince, heir to a king. He worked with His hands and they were probably calloused. He lived with a people who were stubborn, unbelieving and manipulative. These same people gave him up to a wooden cross; a tortuous way to die. But He knew, just as our own soldiers do, that His sacrifice was for a higher purpose, a greater good.
You see, you and I were the unknown people. We were and are the dirty, the sinful, the ones who abuse, murder and hate. But we are the greater good. We are the crown of creation, humanity.
Look at each of those words and phrases separately.
God...the Almighty, Perfect, Omnipotent, Beginning, End, Omniscient...being
So loved....the smelly, the dirty, the sad, the lonely, the happy, the lovely, the ugly...you...me...us
That He....a choice, His choice, His desire, His pleasure
Gave....put forth, lavished, bestowed, volunteered, benefited, contributed
Jesus....son, God-head, first born, emmanuel....Savior
As we remember the events of this week that led Jesus to make that sacrifice let us do as directed by the Kohima memorial, let's tell the world that for their tomorrow Jesus gave His life on that day.