On Memorial Day we remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the securing and defense of our freedoms. And it’s very fitting to dedicate a day to their memory and service.
Several years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to go to France on a short-term mission trip. While there we had the honor of visiting the beaches of Normandy, site of the D-Day invasion in World War II, the largest amphibious assault in history. It was a humbling experience to walk along the beaches where thousands of our young soldiers gave their lives in service to their country.
Nearby, in Colleville-sur-Mer, is the National American Cemetery and Memorial, located on land donated by the French nation. Laid out in similar arrangement to those in Arlington National Cemetery, tombstones mark the final resting place of 9,386 of our soldiers. The Tablets of the Missing record another 1,557 names of those never found. It is a solemn place to visit.
A small circular chapel is centered in the cemetery. One of its walls has this engraving: “Think not only upon their passing. Remember the glory of their spirit!”
The brave men who fought there knew the price would be great, but they charged forward, hoping that their efforts, struggles, and sacrifice would secure liberty for their families and friends back home.
At the top of the chapel, engraved near the top around the outside of the chapel is this reminder: “THESE ENDURED ALL AND GAVE ALL THAT JUSTICE AMONG NATIONS MIGHT PREVAIL AND THAT MANKIND MIGHT ENJOY FREEDOM AND INHERIT PEACE.”
The entire cemetery serves as a memorial, built so that we would never forget. May we never take lightly the sacrifice of so many who make our freedom possible! May we always remember!
Their great sacrifice bought or secured our freedoms in this life. In contrast, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary purchases our spiritual freedom not only in this life, but also in the life to come as well.
On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:13-14 NKJV) He headed to Jerusalem, knowing what would happen there, yet “… he steadfastly set his face to go …” (Luke 9:51).
Jesus had warned His disciples several times of all that was about to transpire, and He was very familiar with all the prophecies concerning the Messiah (read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22). He knew a friend would betray him, and that most of His disciples would desert Him. He knew He would be beaten, scourged, and mocked. He knew about the crown of thorns, the nails, and the cross. He knew He was laying down His life, yet He went forward anyway!
We all stand guilty before a holy God as transgressors of His law, and our transgression requires punishment. A penalty must be paid. Christ offered Himself as our substitute, taking our punishment upon Himself, so that we might be free from the eternal penalty of sin. Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (6:23)
Christ’s death not only frees us from the penalty of sin, it frees us from its power over our daily lives. We don’t have to follow the sinful lusts of our flesh. We can have the strength to do that which pleases God through Christ’s Spirit working in our lives. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free …” (Galatians 5:1).
And Christ’s death makes it possible for us to be at peace with God. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Romans 5:1). No longer enemies, we can be adopted into the family of God.
Christ gave His all for you. He sacrificed Himself for you. Trust Him today. Accept Him as your Savior. And may we always be mindful of His sacrifice for us!