On this day in 1945, a famous photograph was taken of 6 US Marines raising their flag over the battle-scarred landscape of Iwo Jima. More marines died in that battle than in any other in history and so that image was enshrined as a symbol of sacrifice and freedom. 

Many stories that emerge from our wartime past have profound parallels with the message and mission of Jesus on earth. At the time of the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda’s orders were rescinded but he never received the news in  the remote jungle area where he was based. Mass leaflet drops were carried out announcing the end of the war but the Japanese officer believed they were fake. A search party stumbled on the Japanese officer who had now lived for 30 years stranded somewhere between war and peace. 

When Jesus died on the cross, a war was won and a debt was paid for our rejection of God. It happened 2,000 years ago, but many still live in the battlefield, failing to realise they can walk free from it. Just like Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, people come along, announcing the news that freedom has arrived. It’s usually our pride that means we continue living life independent of God. The Bible says we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ but we have to choose to accept it. 

Those who accept God’s gift of new life become flag bearers of peace and reconciliation in this world. Choose today to live in the good of Christ’s victory on the cross and emerge from the wilderness of self-imposed separation from God.

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