Every nation has a means of honoring its heroes. These are men and women who’ve set an example that reaches a height which most if not all people are compelled to admire. Often, though not always, these stories come to us through the military and involve the taking of some lives and the saving of others. The pinnacle of military recognition in the US is known as the Medal of Honor.
In the entire history of the United States Armed Forces, only one person has ever been awarded the Medal of Honor solely for saving lives. His name is Private First Class Desmond Doss. A Seventh-Day Adventist who refused to carry a weapon, he entered the Army determined to save lives instead of taking them. Doss said the greatest temptation in his life occurred one night on the Maeda Escarpment on Okinawa, a place that is widely known as “Hacksaw Ridge.”
While trying to get some sleep one night, Desmond Doss and a fellow soldier heard the voices of some approaching Japanese soldiers and feared they would be discovered. “Between me and my buddy was these hand grenades,” said Desmond. “All I had to do was just pull the pin and I knew I had some Japanese.” He later said that this was the greatest temptation of his life, because he knew the risk of not killing these men. Doss recalled, “I thought of what I heard before, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ God gave life and I didn’t want to take life.”
He never once shot a weapon or took a life to save his own. Desmond made it clear that he owed his life to the Lord’s intervention. He considered it a miracle that he survived. “When you have explosions and bursts so close you can practically feel it, and not get wounded up there; I should have been killed a number of times. I know who I owe my life to as well as my men. That’s why I like to tell this story to the glory of God, because I know from the human standpoint, I should not be here.” He was severely wounded when taking the brunt of a hand grenade blast to save his fellow soldiers. Doss went through life with 17 pieces of grenade shrapnel embedded in his body.
His willingness to face death was a function of his faith in God. His Medal of Honor citation officially credits him with saving 75 lives, though the actual number is likely higher. The final sentence says it all: “His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.”
His is a story that needs to be told. It is a story of self-sacrifice that impacted the lives of everyone he met.
There’s ANOTHER story of a man who never carried a weapon and is responsible for saving lives. His name is Jesus.
He came to earth determined to save lives instead of taking them, too. Christ’s greatest temptation began one night in a garden named Gethsemane on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, and it ended in place that is widely known as “Calvary.”
Here’s the difference. Jesus isn’t a medic, He’s the Messiah. Doss could save lives, Jesus GIVES LIFE to those who are DEAD in their sin.
As much as I honor and respect what PFC Doss did, even his incredible heroism pales next to the story of Christ. And no one would agree with me more than Doss himself. What Doss did may inspire you, what Jesus did will change your life.
JESUS. His is a story that needs to be told.