(Well, now that Easter has come and gone, I’ll get around to posting my Easter message. I’m sure this won’t mean as much to those of you who are not Texans as those who are, but perhaps you’ve seen The Alamo on the “big screen.”)
Hi and welcome once again. Spring Break is history one more time. We’d skip it next year if it were up to me. <sigh> I actually got tired of making traffic stops. This makes 13 years of hearing the same old lie: “I didn’t see the [speed limit] sign.” I actually had one woman tell me she saw the pole (I’d put crime scene tape streamers on it), but didn’t see the sign. Umm-hmm.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (aka “E-rock”) is in my patrol area, and that’s where I spent many an hour on traffic stops. One motorist from San Antonio complained about sitting in his car waiting for hours to get in. I almost told him “Well, I spent over 2 hours standing in line waiting to get into the Alamo a week ago,” but I figured it wouldn’t help anything.
After our trip to the Alamo to see the actual “Travis Letter” written in 1836, my wife said she thought I could come up with a sermon based on the Alamo – more specifically the Battle of the Alamo. (Can’t be done, you say? Don’t know me very well, do you? <smile>) Well, it’s almost Easter and as I pondered on it for a few minutes the similarities between the two events started jumping out at me. Let me briefly share a few with you.
Both the Defenders of the Alamo and Jesus died for freedom – one from the Mexican government, the other from the penalty of sin. Some people get all worked up about “God sending folks to Hell,” but through Jesus, God made a way of escape — and yet people don’t want to hear it.
Outnumbered and overwhelmed
I’m not a native Texan and haven’t studied Texas history, but my understanding is that approximately 180 Texans were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texan force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexican troops marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to re-take Texas.
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus and twelve followers faced the Jewish leadership, as well as a contingent of the Roman army – twelve against more than 600. The twelve quickly disappeared and left Jesus on His own to face trial and crucifixion.
No Help or Reinforcements
For the Defenders, even in spite of calls for reinforcements, no significant help was able to reach them in time. In Jesus’ case, He never called. Matthew records that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said God would have put 72,000 angels at His command (Mt. 26:53), but He did not call for them because His death was planned from the very beginning of time.
“El Degüello” is a song, notable in the US for its use as a march by Mexican Army buglers during the 1836 Siege and Battle of the Alamo. The playing of the song signaled “no quarter” – no survivors. There was “no quarter” given to either Jesus or the Defenders of the Alamo.
Most eyewitness accounts reported between 182 and 257 Texans dead, while most historians of the Alamo agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded. The only survivors were a handful of women, children and non-combatants.
Jesus was physically dead when He was carried to and placed in the tomb.
Women carried the Word
According to Wikipedia, after the fall of the Alamo, each woman who had lived through it, was given $2 and a blanket and was allowed to go free and spread the news of the destruction that awaited those who opposed the Mexican government.
Easter morning the ladies were the first to carry the news, not of Christ’s death, but of His resurrection from the dead.
Victory in spite of Death
The Defenders lost, but through their heroic sacrifice they inspired the subsequent victory at San Jacinto.
Jesus won the victory over death, Hell, and the grave three days after His “defeat” and death on the cross.
This is the text of the famous (although not last) letter Col. Travis wrote from the Alamo:
Commandancy of the The Alamo Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836 To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World— Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.William Barrett Travis. Lt. Col. Comdt.
I can even find similarities between Col. Travis’ letter and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden – He prays for His own, of which He has “lost none save the son of perdition.” He, too, has been bombarded and knows what is about to befall Him: “If it be Thy Will, let this cup pass from me.” But yet He prays: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.”
Having done all, Stand (Eph. 6:13-14)
On March 6, 1836, the Defenders made what preparations they could and then made their last stand.
On a Passover weekend somewhere around 2000 years ago, Jesus made His “last stand.” Unlike the Defenders of the Alamo, He lived to tell about it. And now each year we remember His death on Good Friday and His victory on Easter just as we “Remember the Alamo!”
Hey, thanks for riding along again. Blessings to you and yours.Chaplain Bill firstname.lastname@example.org