romans 5_6-8 Memorial Day
A Day to Remember
6For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8But God demonstrates His own
love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Freedom has never come cheap. That’s true of political freedom, of economic freedom, and of spiritual freedom. So freedom must never be taken lightly; must never be taken for granted.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt made famous the Four Freedoms: freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech and freedom of worship. There is, of course, a fifth freedom more important than all the rest. It is freedom from sin. No government and no leader can bestow that freedom. It is only given by our Lord Jesus.
This is Memorial Day Weekend. What we call Memorial Day people in England call Remembrance Day. None of us intends to forget those to whom we owe so much—but it is easy to forget. It is, then, appropriate that we have a day to remember.
I. Remember Those Who Risked Their Lives for Us.
A. We have to begin with our mothers. Visit any cemetery and you will see that only a few years ago many mothers died giving birth. Today the risks of child-bearing have been greatly reduced, and such deaths are rare. Still it is true that life always begins with a woman passing under the threat of death.
B. Law enforcement officers regularly risk their lives to protect us. We often tend to think of police officers as those who inconvenience us, but many die in the line of duty and all are ready to risk their lives for us.
C. Firefighters, risk their lives to protect us and our property. They are seldom highly paid for the risks they take. They are ready night and day to come to our aid. We must not forget them.
D. We are thankful for men and women in the military who served and came home to grateful communities and to well earned retirement. They chose to risk their lives in a low-paying and sometimes difficult job.
II. Remember Those Who Lost Their Lives for Us.
A. Many died in “far-away places with strange-sounding names.”
B. Some suffered pain and even torture before death came.
C. Their sacrifice was matched by parents who grieved that a son or daughter would not be coming home.
D. The widowed mates of those who paid the price for freedom and their children deserve our gratitude. They, too, paid a high price. We cannot just remember those who died. We must also remember those whose lives were shattered by their death.
E. Freedom has always come at a high price. It would be heartless to fail to honor such sacrifice.
III. Remember One Who Gave His life for Us All.
A. Those who died on battlefields far away chose to serve but they did not choose to die. Their hope was always that they would survive the battle and come home.
B. Jesus Christ came to earth knowing that he would die for us, and with the express intent of doing just that.
C. “For this reason was I born,” He said (John 18:37). For this purpose he came to earth knowing that he would die for us.
D. We hope that those who died for country knew we’d be grateful for their sacrifice. We are certain Jesus knew that many for whom He died would be totally indifferent to His sacrifice.
E. Those who died for country died for family and friends, not for their enemies.
F. What is remarkable about Christ’s death is that He died for us when we were enemies in our hearts and minds.
G. Jesus’ death is also unique in this: only He could have done it.
The fact that Jesus Christ died for us is the final proof of God's love. It would be difficult enough to get a man to die for a just man; it might be possible for a man to be persuaded to die for some great and good principle; a man might have the greater love that would make him lay down his life for his friend. But the wonder of Jesus Christ is that he died for us when we are sinners and in a state of hostility to God. Love can go no further than that.
Rita Snowdon relates an incident from the life of T. E. Lawrence. In 1915 he was journeying across the desert with some Arabs. Things were desperate. Food was almost done, and water was at its last drop. Their hoods were over their heads to shelter them from the wind which was like a flame and full of the stinging sand of the sandstorm. Suddenly someone said, "Where is Jasmin?" Another said, "Who is Jasmin?" A third answered, "That yellow-faced man from Maan. He killed a Turkish tax-collector and fled to the desert." The first said, "Look, Jasmin's camel has no rider. His rifle is strapped to the saddle, but Jasmin is not there." A second said, "Someone has shot him on the march." A third said, "He is not strong in the head, perhaps he is lost in a mirage; he is not strong in the body, perhaps he has fainted and fallen off his camel." Then the first said, "What does it matter? Jasmin was not worth ten pence." And the Arabs hunched themselves up on their camels and rode on. But Lawrence turned and rode back the way he had come. Alone, in the blazing heat, at the risk of his life, he went back. After an hour and a half's ride he saw something against the sand. It was Jasmin, blind and mad with heat and thirst, being murdered by the desert. Lawrence lifted him up on his camel, gave him some of the last drops of precious water, slowly plodded back to his company. When he came up to them, the Arabs looked in amazement. "Here is Jasmin," they said, "Jasmin, not worth ten pence, saved at his own risk by Lawrence."
It was not good men Christ died to save but sinners, not God's friends but men at enmity with him.
Then Paul goes on to tell us: Through Jesus our status with God was changed. Sinners though we were, we were put into a right relationship with God. But that is not enough. Not only our status must be changed but our state. The saved sinner cannot go on being a sinner; he must become good. Christ's death changed our status; his risen life changes our state. He is not dead but alive; he is with us always to help us and guide us, to fill us with his strength so as to overcome temptation, to clothe our lives with something of his radiance. Jesus begins by putting sinners into a right relationship with God even when they are still sinners; he goes on, by his grace, to enable them to quit their sin and become good people. There are technical names for these things. The change of our status is justification; that is where the whole saving process begins. The change of our state is sanctification; that is where the saving process goes on, and never ends, until we see him face to face and are like him.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It is appropriate that every year we have this day to honor our countrymen who made and still make enormous sacrifices for us.
Today is Sunday, The Lord’s Day. It is also appropriate that every week we have a day to honor the Savior who died for the sins of the world.