Friday, November 20, 2009

Purple Heart

They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; (Mark 15:17 NAS)

Purple HeartIt was the year 1782 in the waning days of the American Revolution. The Continental Congress had forbidden the granting of commissions and promotions in rank to recognize merit, but General George Washington, the command-in-chief of the Continental Army at that time, desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers, and to foster and encourage military merit, ordered the establishment of the Badge of Military Merit. In his order of August 7, Washington wrote, “Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.”

In 1921, after 150 years of disuse, the Badge of Military Merit was revived by General John J. Pershing with an inspiration for a new decoration for ‘lesser’ acts. In 1932, General Douglas MacArthur, who was then the Army Chief of Staff, finalized the renewal of the nation's oldest military decoration and renamed it to the Purple Heart.

After undergoing many changes in the criteria for the award, the Purple Heart is regulated in 1995 to be “awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917 has been wounded, killed, or died after being wounded.” In May 2002, a resolution was announced to support efforts to create a National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. Its mission is to collect and preserve the stories of Purple Heart recipients from all branches of service and across generations to ensure that all recipients are represented.

The color, purple, is often associated with royalty or nobility. When a Purple Heart is awarded to a soldier, therefore, it signifies the ascription of honor and nobility to the one deserving merit for defending the country. In certain cultures, purple robes were worn by members of the royal family or people of authority. Jesus, before His death on the cross, was clothed by the soldiers in purple with a crown of thorns to mock and hail Him as King of the Jews (Mark 15:17-18; John 19:2-3). Although Jesus is of true royalty and the world was made through Him, the soldiers, the Jews and the world however did not recognize Him or receive Him (John 1:10-11).

Let us therefore make it known to the world that Jesus is the One Who had given of His blood in the defense of the world, wounded for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5), killed and died on the cross for our sins to save us all from eternal death (John 3:16-17). He is the One deserving of all reverence and praise by His creation forever. Jesus, Who although existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself to take the form of a bond servant, made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:6-7), and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).

For this reason, God highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9-11), that as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). As believers and followers of the Lord empowered by His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8), let us therefore resolute to preserve the stories written in the Word of God and the records in history of the sacrifices made by believers (Deuteronomy 6:6-12). Let us share these stories across generations so as to ensure the good news of the kingdom is preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (Matthew 24:14; Acts 1:8).

Thank You dear Lord for loving us so much that You died on the cross for our sins. You O Lord deserve all the glory and reverence forever. Empower us Lord by Your Spirit to be courageous in reaching the world for You as we preserve the knowledge of Your Word and the testimonies of Your servants in history, that our young may know Your lovingkindness from generations to generations.

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