On an overcast June morning a group of young men were sailing toward the French coastline. Though France has long been a tourist destination, the men on board this vessel had uniformly serious looks on their faces. The choppy sea turned some stomachs, but the waves of world events were the real source of sickness on this day. The young men in this boat were a part of the nearly 160,000 allied troops who landed on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches on June 4, 1944 — D-Day.
I have always been captivated by the stories of D-Day. Perhaps it is because the lines of good and evil seem so clear in WWII. Or maybe it is because my Grandfather participated in this theater of war. Or possibly it is because the story of D-Day has been beautifully told on paper and on film by Speilberg, Ambrose, Hanks and others. For whatever reason, I am always drawn to this real life drama.
I often wonder what it would have been like to have been born 50 years earlier. If I had been born in the 1920’s I would have probably been on a boat headed for Normandy that morning. Had I been on that boat, what would I have been thinking?:
- How gripping was the fear?
- How sure was the plan?
- How right is the cause?
- Would I ever see my loved ones again?
These would have certainly been among my thoughts had I been there. Certainly I would not have been playing games or telling jokes . . . knowing the intensity of that day would have precluded such activities.
I was thinking about this today as I reflect upon Jesus entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus was with a group of young men journeying into the capital city. Though Jerusalem was a common destination for the Passover among the Jews, Jesus’ face was focused. The long dusty roads made many travelers weary, but it was the sting of sin, not wind blown sand that caused Jesus’ jaw to lock. In just five days Jesus would bear in His body the entirety of God’s wrath in judgment on sin for all mankind as He would be stripped, beaten, mocked, tortured and killed on a cross.
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day, what was He thinking? The Scripture gives us some clues as to what Jesus was thinking about as He walked toward His D-Day, the last week before Crucifixion (a day of His destiny and our deliverance):
- He was aware of the consequences for people who reject Him. (Mark 11:12-14, 20-26)
- He was concerned with people exploiting God’s children in the name of worship. (Mark 11:15-19)
- He was aware of the brutal death that awaited Him on the cross (Mark 12:1-12)
- He was frustrated by the fact that religious leaders wanted to play word games instead of dealing with deeper issues of the heart. (Mark 12:13-40)
- He saw humble acts of faith missed by others, but rewarded by God. (Mark 12:41-44)
- He wanted to prepare His followers for the days between His death and His triumphal second coming. (Mark 13:1-37)
As Jesus sailed toward Golgotha, He knew what awaited Him — His rejection and death . . . but our deliverance and life. The first Easter was not about eggs and candy — it was much more serious than that. It was a Man on a mission of mercy.
Though fear and dread surrounded the cross, He moved forward because He loved us. God’s plan was sure and His cause was righteous. Because He desired to see His loved ones (you and me) in eternity, He landed on the beach head of Calvary . . . and won the battle.
This week, may you take a moment to seriously reflect on reality of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. On June 4, we commemorate the soldiers who won WWII for the Allied forces. On April 20 this year, we rejoice that Jesus Christ won Eternal Life for all who believe.