Something that’s always puzzled me about this whole Jesus dying on the cross thing has been a one word question. Why?

Why did he have to die? How did it change things? If Jesus could control the weather and spit mud into a blind guys eyes and heal him – why couldn’t he have just pulled off one of those tricks to sort this whole sin thing out? And what did dying horrifically on a cross do that something else slightly more pleasant couldn’t? I mean, surely he could have chosen to die in his sleep right?

Sadly I don’t have any grand answer. The bible gives us lot of different pictures and images of what Jesus’ death on the cross was about – but it doesn’t’ seem to be a case of one size fits all. And whatever the exact reason behind it all was, it seems that God’s kept the way it all fits together to himself, at least for now.

But since Easter has just gone and Anzac day is almost here – funnily enough I think we might find some answers to this question of “Why” when we look at them side by side.

Anzac day is essential to what makes us Kiwi. As some of our Anzac memorials say “Greater love has no man than he who gave up his life for his friends”. Our young men dying with and for their friends. Dying to save a nation, to purchase freedom for Mother England and her Commonwealth family.

Anzac day gave New Zealand the twenty-first keys to our nationhood. It is a day of pride. It is a day of sacrifice, as our young men died on foreign shores. It is a day of waste, as life bled away for the follies of war and tactics that reduced Gallipoli to a meaningless side show. Today, Anzac Day is a kiwi symbol of identity through sacrifice.

But identity in sacrifice is shared not only in Anzac Day. It is also the symbol of the Cross. A young carpenter dying for his friends. A wasted life bleeding away. An innocent man dying to save a nation, to purchase freedom for his grieving mother and friends.

So this identity through sacrifice is a shared symbol of us kiwis as a nation, and also as followers of Jesus in our faith.

Anzac day is a day of participation. We stand united and gain identity as new Zealanders from the innocence of past sacrifice. For the Christian, Anzac Day is Communion. A day essential to our identity. A day to lay a wreath for a dead carpenter, to bow a lonely trumpet, to remember sacrifice and waste. A day to stand together in unity. A chance for us to identify with, and gain identity from innocent sacrifice.

Anzac Day pulls back a curtain, and spotlights a shared symbol of identity between both Christians and Kiwis. And maybe we can enrich our own understanding of Jesus’ death on the cross by looking closer at why Anzac day has impacted our nation the way it has.

Listen for the undertones of Jesus on the Cross in this ANZAC Dedication recorded in the 1950’s…

Click on the image below. Read each verse and idea about Jesus on the Cross, and try and think how this idea can also be true for the soldiers at Gallipoli… If you get stuck on any of them, try reading through one of the relevant thoughts or quotes in the Cheat Sheet below to help get you in the zone.

Anzac Cards

Finish by reading the quote by Ataturk…it’s an incredibly powerful display of forgiveness that can teach us all something.



Voluntary Sacrifice: Those who first went to war, choose to go and were not conscripted.

New Community: Pugsley “Men went as the Taihape, Clive or Ashburton Boys, yet would return from Gallipoli and Chunuk Bair as New Zealanders…”

Victory over Evil: Ultimate victory over evil powers and ambitions.

Freedom: Those left behind had to hear about the terrible war that they could do nothing about – but because of there victory we are now free.

Hope among the Ashes of Death:
An apparently futile war lead to an ultimate victory. The poppy is a symbol of a hope of peace arising from the carnage of war… a bit like the lords supper.

Honour and Glory: Their death has lead to exaltation and honour among kiwis.

Forgiveness Between People: Ataturk, Turkish Prime minister “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours… you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

(the content of this session is largely “borrowed” from the work of Steve Taylor.)



  1. Brad Said:

    humans live with inherited sin . Jesus death is a ransom . the value of which can be applied to each human as a redemption buy-back . God requires of us faith in him & to live according to that faith

  2. Brad Said:

    during WW2 , kiwis were encouraged to fight for king & country . during WW2 germans were encouraged to fight for king & country . christians on both sides encouraged to fight in the various churches . . . . . . christians killing other christians , because the politicians of the different countrys asked them too . we wont be answering to politicians when Gods time of judgement comes , at that time you wont be wanting bloodstained hands

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