The cannons fired in succession to honor the President of the United States. As I viewed the impressive and solemn display, I wondered about the origin of the military custom of the twenty-one gun salute. The precise origins are unclear but most historians place it around the 14th century when warriors seeking peace with their rivals would discharge their cannons, essentially rendering them ineffective. It began with seven cannons firing from warships. Land cannons could fire at least three rounds for every round from a warship, hence, the shore salute was a firing of twenty-one guns. With time and advancing technology, the warships adopted the twenty-one gun salute. In 1842, the United States officially adopted this as the Presidential salute, joining most of the major nations of the world.
The salute is a sign of submission, literally placing oneself in a position of helplessness as a show of deference to the person being honored. It symbolizes trust and vulnerability. Isn’t this what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did for us?
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 (CSB)
At any point in His life on this earth, including the agonizing hours He was dying on the Cross, Jesus could have called upon God, His Father, to rescue Him. Yet He alone chose to bear the burden and punishment for sins.
For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 (CSB)
The twenty-one gun salute is one way to honor another person by symbolically placing oneself in a position of submission. Jesus Christ did far more than symbolize His submission, He willingly placed His divinity aside, emptying Himself, receiving the full wrath of God for the punishment of sin that we all deserved. Jesus Christ honored God, His Father, by dying on the Cross so that He would be resurrected in glory three days later to be eternally exalted.
If Jesus Christ, who was fully God did this for me, I salute Him and willingly submit my life to Him to be my Lord and Savior.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.