A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
25th April 2006
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Last Tuesday flags were raised at South Head to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Battle happened 200 years ago in 21st of October 2005. But the news did not reach Australia till six months later on the 11th of April.
Last Tuesday was the celebration of the coming of the announcement. For great joy accompanied the coming of the news back in 1806. The gospel message that came was that Nelson had won, France and Spain were defeated, Britain and its empire were safe.
The fear of Napoleon has receded over the centuries. His imperial expansion needs to be compared to Hitler for us to understand how alarmed the British were. When we realise their concerns we can grasp why they rejoiced so vigorously and commemorated so widely the great victory of Nelson at Trafalgar.
There have been few more decisive moments of military history than this famous naval battle. In consequence of the battle, Napoleon could not invade England. The British navy ruled the waves for more than a century. The British Empire was safe. The far-flung colony here in Sydney need never fear the French.
When the news came to Sydney there was sadness that Lord Nelson had been killed. But that sadness could not inhibit the jubilation that Britain had won. The victory was widely celebrated throughout the colony.
This weekend we are celebrating a greater victory that is nearly 2000 years old. The great news of Jesus’ victory took a lot longer than six months to reach Australia. But the news of Jesus’ victory is far greater than the news of Nelson’s. For the victory of Calvary was far greater than Trafalgar.
Both battles took the life of the victor. But Jesus death was not like Nelson’s death. Nelson died as a leader in battle. Jesus death was the battle. Jesus death was the sacrifice that won the battle.
Furthermore Nelson sadly remained dead. Whereas Jesus overcame death and rose to sit in all power and might as the ruler of the universe. Through his death and because of his death he rules the world to this very day.
And the consequences of the battle Jesus won were far greater than Trafalgar. Trafalgar saved Britain but did nothing to protect Germany or Russia from Napoleon. Jesus victory was for all of nations and all continents. Trafalgar’s victory shaped the next century’s history. Calvary has shaped nearly two thousand years and will continue to shape the future. Indeed Jesus’ victory shapes eternity.
Nelson broke the naval power of Napoleon. Jesus broke the power of Satan. Nelson freed the British from the possibility of invasion. Jesus freed humanity from the reality of enslavement to sin, death and condemnation.
Nelson died for the sake of his fellow countrymen and friends. Jesus died for his enemies - the very people who were living in opposition to his rule and caused his death.
For those who do not understand the peril of our situation the message of Jesus’ victory is like the battle of Trafalgar. It is only of antiquarian interest. But for those who know of sin and guilt, of death and of evil - we cannot stop rejoicing at the victory that Jesus won for us at Calvary.
You may not hear of this victory of Jesus for years. But when you come to understand the significance of this victory, you do more than rename a city square after the victor, or build a pillar and place a statue of him on it. When you see the consequences of his victory you do more than have a party and celebrate with your neighbours. When you grasp what Jesus did in winning the ultimate battle - you turn your life around to acknowledge him as your Saviour and Lord.
Trafalgar celebrations were great but are as nothing compared to Easter celebrations. Happy Easter.