Saturday, 1 April 2017

The dragon-slayer

April 2017

The George Cross, the second highest award in the British honours system, is presented for "acts of the greatest heroism and bravery in circumstances of extreme danger".  It is named after its creator, King George VI but another George, St George, is pictured on the solid silver medal.  He is riding a horse and, with his lance, attacking the dragon that, according to legend, was about to feast itself on a local princess.  We might ask why the princess had been abandoned to such a beast but the willingness of the warrior George to risk his life to save her is celebrated around the world.

The George Cross is cast in a shape known everywhere as the symbol of another act of self-sacrificial bravery – a cross.  St George rides a horse and carries a spear.  Jesus’ biographers say that he entered Jerusalem riding a donkey and knowing that he himself would be pierced and speared, not in defeat but to win a far greater victory, not the rescue of a princess and her village, but the rescue of many princesses, villagers and countless others around the world who learn to trust him.  On the cross Jesus crushed a fiery dragon far more terrible than any in the storybooks (see Revelation 12:9).

In 1929 WW1 hero Brigadier William Dobbie was stationed in Palestine and given an office overlooking the hill where Jesus was said to have been crucified.  When copies of the New Testament were delivered for distribution to his troops he had this note inserted into each book: “You are stationed at the place where the central event in human history occurred – namely the crucifixion of the Son of God. You may see the place where this happened and you may read the details in this book. As you do this, you cannot help being interested, but your interest will change into something far deeper when you realise the events concern you personally. It was for your sake the Son of God died on the cross here. The realisation of this fact cannot but produce a radical change in one's life – and the study of this book will, under God's guidance, help you to such a realisation.”

Happy Easter, and Happy St George’s Day too,

Graham Burrows