Summary: Just as our society has memorials to remember significant people and events, so does the New Testament offer us memorials to remember significant people and events.
Great Memorials of the New Testament
Text: Matthew 26:6-13
Introduction: Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, honors U. S. citizens who have died in war. It originally commemorated soldiers killed in the Civil War. Following WWI it was extended to all United States war dead. National observance is marked by the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The custom of honoring the graves of the war dead began before the close of the Civil War. In the South, the town of Columbus, Mississippi claims to be the origination of this formal observance for both the Union and Confederate Armies in 1866. In the North, Waterloo, N. Y. is cited as the birthplace the same year. There was no fixed day of national observance, however, until 1868, when Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued a general order designating May 30, 1868 for the "purpose of strewing with flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion." How can we remember the war dead?
· Wear a red poppy to honor those who gave their lives during wartime. (In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem: "We cherish too, the Poppy redthat grows on fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies that blood of heroes never dies."
· At 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, pause for a prayer or listen to "Taps"
· Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day · Visit a war memorial
· Attend a Memorial Day parade to honor fallen heroes
Celebrating Memorial Day assumes that we understand the purpose of a memorial.
The dictionary says it is something that serves to preserve remembrance. A memorial can be a special day, an event or even a building (i.e. The Lincoln Memorial etc.) that helps us to remember. Most of the memorials with which we’re familiar help us to focus on the accomplishments of men and women, but the Bible has its share of memorials that help us consider the glory and works of God.
· Genesis 9 tells us that the rainbow is God’s memorial to remind us that He will never again judge the earth by flood.
· Jacob set up a memorial at Bethel (See Genesis 28:18). It was the stone he used to pillow his head before his dream of a ladder reaching down from heaven. It reminded Jacob that God intended to fulfill the promise He made to his grandfather, Abraham.
· Jewish men wore memorials on their garments (tassels with cords of blue) to remind them of God’s commandments (See Numbers 15:37-39).
· The Passover was a memorial ceremony that served to remind the Jews of God’s deliverance from the bondage of the Egyptians through the plague of the death of the firstborn male (See Exodus 12:14 NAS).
The New Testament also mentions some memorials, which serve as important reminders of spiritual realities. Let’s consider together three of these this morning.
I. Memorial #1 - In Memory of One’s Love for Christ (See Matthew 26:6-13). In the latter part of Matthew, the readers are forced to acknowledge the failure of every one of the male disciples to stand with their Lord in a time of testing (See Matthew 26:56). What we discover is that it is their female counterparts that show love for Christ by their willingness to identify with Him (See Matthew 27:55,56,61: 28:1). Such is the case in this story. A woman whom John reveals as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Christ with nard, an expensive perfume likely imported from India, in preparation for what was to come. Here are a couple of thoughts about her demonstration of sacrificial love:
A. It was a good deed. The words translated "a beautiful thing" in the NIV are actually the phrase "a good work." The disciples were supposed to let their good works shine (See Matthew 5:16); yet this woman is the only one commended by Christ for a good work. Why was it considered good? It was done, not to benefit herself (See Matthew 6:1ff; John 12:4), but to honor Christ.
B. It was a costly deed. People often stored their most expensive ointments in alabaster bottles, which were semitransparent and resembled marble. They would seal the contents to prevent evaporation, requiring that the long neck of the jar be broken and the ointment expended all at once. Because this was considered a very extravagant act of love and devotion, it was usually done only at the death of loved ones. Some suggest that, given the expense, such possessions might even have been considered family heirlooms passed from one generation to another.