Recently, I read an inspiring story about U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Emil Joseph Kapaun, a native of Pilsen, Kansas. Capt. Kapaun served with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry unit during the Korean War. Among his many courageous acts, he is best remembered for the actions he took in November 1950, when he stayed behind with a number of wounded soldiers as their regiment retreated.
Risking death, he allowed himself to be captured in order to tend to his fellow warriors. He even argued with the enemy soldiers in order to prevent severely wounded men from being executed. After being captured, Kapaun continued to minister to them in their prison cells. Eventually, he died in captivity, and his remains have never been found.
For his heroic acts, Chaplain Kapaun was posthumously awarded many tributes including the Presidential Medal of Honor, the Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart. Without a doubt, Emil Kapaun is a recognized and authentic hero. We salute this gallant soldier and commend him for his exemplary service.
Truly, many noble and amazing heroes have walked on earth. But none of their actions can compare to the self-sacrificing acts that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did for us. He took death for Himself that we might live.
Consider the following:
1. Jesus was just 33 years old when he laid down His life at Calvary. Still a young man and in the prime of His life.
2. Being Mary’s oldest son, he had many responsibilities to care for his family, yet he set it all aside for us.
3. Jesus was sinless and perfect, and even His enemies said, “I find no fault in Him” (John 19:6). Jesus lived a life that was flawlessly balanced between joy and sorrow, justice and mercy, righteousness and anger, and prayer and action.
4. Of all the lives ever lived, the life of Jesus was of highest value and the least worthy of dying in disgrace and humiliation.
Jesus knew physical hunger, sorrow, grief, and abuse. His heart was broken, and a close friend betrayed Him. His side was pierced, He was forced to wear a crown of thorns, and iron spikes were driven into His hands and feet. Yet He cried with a lord voice saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Like hero Chaplain Kapaun, Christ stayed with those that had been abandoned, provided for their needs, and gave up His life for the freedom of others. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, “Christ…GAVE HIMSELF for us.”
My closing prayer: “Our hero, come and rescue us! O God of the breakthrough, for the glory of your name, come and restore us." (Psalm 79:9 - The Passion Translation)