The Case of the Red Cross Flag


I'm still lamenting the fact that I have "read-up" all of my Sherlock Holmes (all the major stories anyway; I'm sure there are a few short stories untouched somewhere).  Why does all the drivel of life have to proliferate so, I'd like to know; and all the noble, uplifting stuff so rare? 


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was no great example, in his personal life, for a Christian pastor to follow, I'm afraid, but I do love what he wrote. 


Doyle wrote other things besides the great detective cases. He was a doctor originally, so he wrote a few medical articles; his most famous one was about "poisons" (wouldn't you know?). He tried his hand at historical novels. He dabbled in a little Sci-Fi (remember Lost World?) But none of it would ever compare to the great sleuth at 221-B Baker Street.


There's one exception, however: Doyle wrote  A History of the Boer War, and the only reason I know that is because of an amazing story he recounts at one point in the work. And—quite frankly?—it's the best thing Doyle ever wrote!


The Boer War was a brutal one for the British: a grueling, costly struggle against the Dutch in South Africa. I'm sure the poor indigenous people suffered most of all, but it was very tough on the British as well.


In one particular chapter, Doyle tells about an entire British platoon that got horribly ambushed and found itself all shot up and surrounded by gunfire, way out in No Man's Land; which is never a nice place to be: no friendly forces nearby to help; miles and miles of brutal terrain stopping their retreat. 


Almost every man in the platoon was wounded and inactive—this game was over! But by the standards of warfare back in those days, all they really needed was a "red-cross" flag to let the enemy know they were done for. Seeing that flag, the enemy would cease its fire and leave them unharmed; they would be taken captive, of course, but at least they would get to live. 


The problem was that they had no "red-cross". The men who carried the flags in their packs had all been shot dead back down the road. So they were in serious trouble. They were facing total annihilation!


One of the corporals of the Ceylon Mounted Infantry recognized the grave danger: "We knew that, without a red-cross, we would be blown off the face of the earth," he later reported to a journalist. 


So he decided to do something about it! 


One of his men rummaged through a pack and produced a white pillowcase. The Corporal immediately set to work, dipping his fingers in the blood of his own wounds—when that wasn't enough, he used the wounds of a friend!—to paint that life-saving emblem on the cloth! 


It worked! The gunfire ceased, the wounded platoon survived to tell a harrowing tale to all the world!


You know? You and I survive today under the saving power of the wounds of a friend! That precious cross, stained with the blood of our Savior, is the 'red-cross flag' of every faithful Christian. It saves us from the ambush. It has ended the hostility. It now rescues us from certain destruction.


Remember that beautiful prophecy in Isaiah? We hear it sung every Christmas in that awesome Handel's Messiah: "'Comfort ye! Comfort ye, my people!' saith your God. 'Speak ye comfort to Jerusalem and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished and her iniquity is pardoned.'" Is 40: 1-2 


"Her warfare is accomplished and her iniquity is pardoned." Isn't it beautiful? What a promise! It's a prophecy of Redeemer and His saving work on the Cross! 


That, dear family, is the only important thing! It's the only important message! It's the only hope we have. It is the only true solution for the chaos and confusion of our world. It is the only thing that will bring true peace and end the 'warfare' that threatens our destruction. 


I am dedicated to the proclaiming of it!  How about you? Will you commit yourself to that with me? Are you ready to uphold it through thick and thin, through good times and bad; this matchless message of the Cross?


We are launching a brand new year, and who knows what these next months might bring? But there's one thing we do know: the culture around us won't get any gentler! The animosity will be just as great. Resistance will be just as fierce! So you and I must 'dig in', 'hang on' and keep holding forth this wonderful Good News. 


I'm so glad you come to hear it each week! God bless you dear faithful OT! 


See you Sunday                          RAS

This Year, Make Room! - Final Edition for 2017