A distant shore. The date is April 25th, 1915. A man named John Simpson Kirkpatrick arrives at what will become known as one of the most notorious battlefields of World War 1—the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey. And so, the legend of Simpson and his donkey was born.
Over the course of the next two-and-a-half weeks, working constantly day and night, Simpson and his donkey reportedly saved more than 300 men, continually putting his own life in danger in order to save others. The soldiers, “watched him spellbound from the trenches…it was one of the most inspiring sights of those early Gallipoli days” (Captain C Longmore). He ultimately sacrificed his life attempting to save yet two more soldiers on 19th May. Since that day he has become a legend known to most Australians. One of the central figures of the ANZAC legend, epitomising the ideals of mateship, sacrifice and bravery.
You can imagine the thoughts going through those young ANZAC’s minds as they lay wounded in no-mans-land on the battlefield with no hope of rescue. They were incapable of saving themselves and unless a miracle occurred, death was coming. They would have then seen Simpson and his donkey appearing to save them when they had no hope of saving themselves. Can you imagine the relief and elation they must have felt?
On this day, here in Australia it is right that we should speak about and remember Simpson and his donkey and the other ANZAC’s who sacrificed their lives so that we can have the lives we have now. Indeed, I often stop and think in awe about what they did. I am sure that around the world, others do the same thing on the days that their country remembers.
The thing is, as a Christian, we have a hero of our own. When we were dead and with no hope of salvation our hero, Jesus, sacrificed himself so that we could be saved. And he didn’t just save us from death temporarily, but through his sacrifice has given us eternal life. The elation felt by those young men over 100 years ago is nothing compared to the elation that those who are rescued from their sins by the death of Jesus feel. Isn’t that far more worth talking about than Simpson and his donkey?
So, this ANZAC day in Australia, whether you be watching a service online or lucky enough to attend, I would encourage you to thank Jesus for making the ultimate sacrifice. And then ask him to send you someone in your life that you can share the story of Jesus with. Maybe you could ask if they have heard of the story of Simpson and his donkey. Then share with them the story of another hero.