Today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States. It occurs every year on the final Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
To be sure, our freedom isn’t free and every brave man and woman who lost their lives defending this great nation proves this truth. They gave up their hopes. They gave up their dreams. They gave up their future plans. They gave up the families they had and the families they never got the chance to have. They gave up their lives to serve this great nation to give to us the freedom we enjoy today.
Sadly, far too many in our country today have forgotten or never learned what Memorial Day is all about. Some see it only as a 3 day holiday to hang out with family and friends for a barbeque. Others see it as merely an extra day off from work and a time to catch up on a little extra sleep. Still others spend their time working through the countless advertisements to find the best Memorial Day sales from mattresses to automobiles. How easy it is to get so caught up in enjoying our freedom that we forget the fact that it wasn’t free. It cost many much…and it cost far too many all. When you think about it for a moment, pausing today simply to say thank you is a good thing, but it really doesn’t seem like enough. But let us at the very least do that.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13
In these words we find the One who truly understands best what it means to sacrifice it all. The Lord Jesus Christ lived out the truth of this command demonstrating “no greater love” but there is something quite amazing about what He did. Jesus did not lay down His life for His friends. He laid down His live for those who were His enemies. He died for those who hated Him, for those who hurled insults at Him, for those who dishonored His mighty name, and for all those who put Him to the most horrible death by slow suffocation while hanging nailed to a cross.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. Colossians 1:21
As we go throughout this Memorial Day let us pause and take some time to remember and appreciate all those brave men and women who gave it all for our freedom. Pray for their families and find ways to participate in the process of helping all of our veterans and their families who suffer a lifetime of the after effects of the horrors of war. And as we do this, let us also remember the greatest sacrifice of all, the one paid by our Lord Jesus Christ for all those who would put their trust in Him for salvation. His perfect life and sacrificial death not only gave us the freedom we enjoy today from the reign of sin and death, the freedom to live a life that is pleasing in His sight, but secured our freedom for all eternity.
Remember, because of what Jesus freely did on our behalf, there is a time coming when their will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more wars, and no more death. Let that truth fill our hearts today and every day with thanksgiving for the One who laid down His life for us. The freedom we enjoy in our great nation wasn’t free. It was blood-bought by the brave men and women of the Armed Forces. And make no mistake, the freedom we enjoy as Christians wasn’t free either. It was blood-bought by the precious Son of the Most High God. May God bless you this Memorial Day!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!