“Anzac Dayappears to have gone beyond mere memorial because of its role in shaping modern Australian identity.
In popular psyche, the values that the diggers showed at Anzac Cove reflect the values we revere in Australia– courage, sacrifice, endurance and mateship.
Yet perhaps even more significantly, Anzac Day has gone beyond memorial to become perhaps our national, unofficial, state religion.
WHY HAS ANZAC DAY BECOME SO SACRED? The sacralisation of Anzac Day is a way of filling our ‘God–shaped hole’. Since we have generally dispensed with Christianity in our culture as our ‘national religion’ we have not become irreligious. Instead, as a nation, we are in search of a soul and have attempted to fill that spiritual void with Anzac Day.
IT IS APPROPRIATE TO HONOUR THE ANZACS It is appropriate to pause, remember and reflect on the bravery and sacrifice the Diggers made for our nation. It is appropriate and right to stand for a minute’s silence. But at times the way Anzac Day is portrayed, it goes well beyond simply remembrance.
SACRIFICE. The Shrine of Remembrance has engraved on its floor:
“Greater love hath no man”. This is a quote from the Bible, from John 15 where Jesus is speaking to his disciples before his death. He poignantly asks, what higher moral virtue is there than to give the thing that is most precious to you—your life—for those you care about?
It’s an appropriate verse to have on a memorial to describe the sacrifice of the Anzacs—for giving their lives for their friends. Indeed, there are parallels between the sacrifice of Jesus and the Anzacs, but there is a crucial difference.
Romans 5:8 outlines this difference “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus doesn’t simply lay down his life for his friends and followers, but for his enemies. It’s like a Digger giving his life for a Turk.
Jesus gave his life for those who ignored him, who rejected him, who spat upon him—people like us, as we are by nature enemies of God. Jesus gave his life for us.
This makes the sacrifice of Jesus stand far apart from the sacrifice of the Diggers.
On Anzac Day, let’s pause and remember, but also turn to the true God to find all he has for us in Jesus Christ. The one who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his enemies, people like you and me, to set us free from bondage to sin, evil and death and to give us eternal life. That’s something worth remembering every day of the year! ”
– Mike Raiter (GospelCoalitionAust)