At 11 am on 11th November 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back. In November the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted allied terms that amounted to unconditional surrender. Ever since, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years, often referred to as Armistice Day. On that day people remembered the tragedy of WW1 where between 9 and 13 million had died as a result and as many as one-third of them with no known grave. After WW2, British and Australian governments changed the name ‘Armistice Day’ to ‘Remembrance Day’ so that all who lost their lives in wars could be remembered. In 1997, Governor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11th November to be Remembrance Day, urging all Australians to observe one minute’s silence at 11 am on 11th November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts. (edited).
Today, we owe a great debt of gratitude to all those who have given their lives for their fellow countrymen so that we can enjoy the many blessings this land provides, not least our freedoms. Jesus himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13). We can be thankful to God that many in this land are pretty good at remembering Remembrance Day and what it stands for and rightly so. So, hats off and kudos to those who have laid down their lives in service of this country. May that history help restrain future conflicts!
Having said that, while we remember and celebrate our freedoms, let us not forget the ‘greater’ battle that was won for us by the One-Man Jesus Christ. He willingly laid down His life for us, not while we were his friends but while we were still his enemies (Rom 5:8ff). He did this so that we may be set free from the curse of the law, which could not forgive our sins or save us unto eternal life in glory. Jesus, through his death and resurrection not only satisfies the justice of God as payment for our sins, but we are now also clothed with His righteousness and are set free so that we may have life to the full (Jn 10:10).
Unfortunately, not too many are good at remembering, or worse still, even knowing about the greater victory of Jesus over sin and death. So, as we reflect on the many lives lost through world conflicts, may the Lord use us to tell the story of the greatest ‘Freedom Fighter,’ who never lifted a weapon of war, yet is able to save all who embrace Him as Saviour. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be at work in and through us and that many are brought to faith in Jesus Christ so that they, along with us, can experience the freedom we have in Christ, the joy of forgiveness and the free gift eternal life (Eph 2:1ff). May we not just remember that for a minute each year but every minute of every year to the praise and glory of God. JZ