Perhaps you heard the lines of Tennyson’s famous poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, during your school years:
Half a league, half a league
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward the Light Brigade!”…
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blundered;
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
As poet laureate of England, Tennyson wrote the poem in honor of a brigade of light cavalry who rode into the face of the Russian cannons on the 25th of October, 1854 at Balaklava during the Crimean War.
English Lord Cardigan got a vague order, passed through several hands, to recapture the big guns not even in view.
It was a fatal order. He knew this. But Cardigan mounted up anyway, along with the 600 men of the light brigade – knowing they would face, as Tennyson put it, “Cannon to the right of them, Cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them.”
They charged into the heart of the Russian army, risking it all rather than disobey an order.
Very few returned that day. Their unwavering, unquestioning obedience,even in the face of an order which they did not understand, was immortalized in Tennyson’s poem: “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” – “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.”
So obedience, submitting to the will of another, can cost you your life. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was “obedient even to the point of death on a cross.” He rode into Jerusalem, and He marched off to Gethsemane, to trial and to Calvary – knowing what was waiting.
But who gave the order? Some blundering general behind an office desk? Who wanted Jesus dead? Caiphas? The scribes and Pharisees? The Sadducees? Pilate? Barabbas who figured, “Better Him than me?” To some extent, all of them wanted Jesus dead. But who really wanted Him to die? Who really gave the order?
It was God the Father Himself who gave the order, who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. It was no blunder. It was no mistake. It was love. The Son obeyed His Father’s will, not because He did not understand the order, but because He did, because He loved us this much. And so He won our hearts!