Summary: A Memorial Day Message to remember those who've sacrificed for our freedoms
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.