It’s honorable and fitting this morning we remember the sacrifice of our nation’s great veterans, who gave their lives on battlefields abroad and here at home. By some estimates, nearly 1.3 million Americans have shed their blood and died for freedom’s cause. Still, as magnanimous as this number is, it pales in comparison to the number of men, women, and children who have given their lives for freedom’s, eternal cause.
Michael J. McClymond, writing for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, wrote in its December 2002 edition: “The total number of Christian martyrs during the 20th Century is reported at 45 million.” He finished his though by defining Christian martyrs as “Believers in Christ who lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility."
You know, God only knows how many more have shed their blood for the cause of Christ in the last two thousand years. It’s fitting this morning we likewise remember their sacrifice. Still, more fittingly, it’s important we remember the One they believed in, who shed the purity of his blood for freedom’s cause. For without the sacrifice or our Risen Lord, we in American would not enjoy the freedoms we love and know so well.
Before we really dig in this morning, I’d like to step outside the box and show a short music video that rings of freedom’s cause. As you watch the video, let the music and lyrics soak into your soul. Reflect upon our nation’s heroes who’ve died as a result of human hostility. More-so, reflect upon Jesus’ sacrifice as video resonates through your heart and soul.
THE PRICE THAT WAS PAID
Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Luke 22:19-20. On the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ gathered with his disciples to share one final meal. Luke recorded Christ’s words as he tore the unleavened bread. Jesus said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” To us Christ was saying, “Never forget the price I paid for you. Remember always that which was broken and poured out for you” upon humanity’s most brutal battlefield — my cross, which stood upon Calvary’s hill.
Likewise, the Apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Corinth, instructed the faithful to remember for all time the sacrifice Christ paid. 1 Corinthians 11:23–25 says, “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Paul twice said, in effect, “Remember! Remember the sacrifice.”
But why was this so important for Paul to say and reiterate, “remember?” Paul received personal instruction from Jesus Christ, to pass on his call for memorial remembrance, to a people group that was tearing itself in pieces, much as our nation is doing today. William Barclay summarized Paul’s letters to the Corinthians nicely by saying: “The Corinthians thought too much about human wisdom and knowledge, and too little about the sheer grace of God. In fact, for all their so-called wisdom, they are really in a state of immaturity.”
Paul wrote to a people divided and embroiled in jealousy, quarrelling, litigious lawsuits, sexual immorality, material idolatry, and another biggie: a failure to remember and heed Israel’s past mistakes. That sounds like America today, doesn’t it?
You know, someone needs to say it, and I’m going to, because it’s time we call forth, that which hate to utter. We’ve become a nation jealous and envious of our neighbors and one another. We constantly quarrel, bicker, and sue one another when we do not get our way. Sexual immorality and material idolatry is running more rampant today than ever before — even within the church in America. But more than all of these —like Israel, and like the church in Corinth — America is forgetting the real reasons we’re free.
For that reason, Paul hinged his first letter to the Corinthians on the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ, as that which gives freedom, and should be remembered with praise and adoration, in order to bring us together for something greater in love and unity. Paul was saying, “Remember why you’re free.” He was saying, “Put aside your current ways, recall your past, and pay tribute to the true red, white, and blue, and move into the liberty given to you.”
As we heard earlier, Kurt Goad sang to our veterans: “We haven’t forgot the price you have paid. You’ve given us the freedom that we enjoy today. And every day I thank my God, for sending those like you, who carried into the future, the dreams of me and you.
Paul implored the Corinthians to not forget the price for the freedom they enjoyed. He was saying, thank God every day for sending first Christ, and then his Apostles, who are carrying you into the future. Through the Spirit of God, Paul’s words echo eternal to us in our day-and-age. The Spirit of the Living God is saying, Honor Christ and remember his sacrifice!” Dear friends, I have to tell ya, I’m afraid that if we continue to displace the real reason America is free, that our freedoms in Christ may cease to be. America is in danger of forgetting the sacrifices of those, who in the footsteps of Christ, have died for the freedoms born by patriots over 200 years ago.
Memorial Day has become a celebration of hotdogs, picnics, Indy-Car races, and having an excuse for a day off, more-so than remembering the reason’s it was first celebrated at all. Now truthfully, we all like all that stuff — and it’s all fine-and-dandy that we partake in Memorial celebrations, for as long as we still memorialize those who’ve died for our freedoms. I’m glad there’s still a remnant of folks —I bet like many of you — who tomorrow will remember our loved who’ve passed on, and those in our country who’ve shed their blood for the freedoms we enjoy in the USA.
For our loved ones, fallen heroes, and to those who’ve died for the sake of Christ, I think it’s important we stand united and say: “We haven’t forgotten, the price you have paid. You have given us the freedom that we enjoy today. And every day we thank our God, for sending you —the ones who with Christ Jesus —carries into the future, the dreams of me and you.
So many people have paid the ultimate price so we can be free. But ya know, without Christ Jesus, the price for America’s freedom, could not have been paid. Kurt Goad sang about the red, the white and the blue. His poetry is beautiful and affects my soul. It’s as though he wrote those words, remembering back to the stripes and bruises that Jesus first bore.
While our flag still stands tall, it’s good to remember Jesus as the first to symbolize the red, white and blue. The red is for his blood; and the blue is for his bruises, and the white is for his eyes that lovingly fought and died for me and you. His Spirit is crying out, saying, remember, so that you do not forget. Because if you fail to remember, then you may forget the reason that America is still alive.
JESUS IS THE REASON AMERICA’S STILL ALIVE
Let us lift our hands to heaven and shout unto God. We haven’t forgot, the price you have paid. You’ve given us the freedom that we enjoy today. We thank you God every day, for sending your son, who carries into the future, the dreams we have for a future blessed by you.
To honor God, let us remember our heroes by standing together tomorrow and saying, “Jesus is the reason America is alive.” Go out tomorrow and have fun. But, amidst our fun, let’s us remember the sacrifice and the reason the star spangled banners still waves, as it sends its message to the world, saying come and be a part of the reason God still blesses the USA.