As deeply and profoundly grateful as we should be for the bravery, the sacrifice, and the selfless devotion shown by those who gave their all to purchase for us the gift of freedom, we should also pause today to remember the cross of Christ. On “that day”, the incomprehensible happened. On that day, the Prince of Peace became for us the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world.
We cannot begin to imagine the horror of life without that sacrifice. The holocaust gave us only a glimpse. Whether you count yourself among those who call him Lord or not, you are in his debt. He died “once for all” to purchase freedom for all who accept it and don’t reject it.
Christianity is not a religion as most people believe. Religions give us things we must do, or sacrifices we must make in order to achieve peace, or to appease their gods. The cross of Christ, that horrible implement of gruesome torture, shows us that we have a God who loves us so much he that did all that was necessary to set himself apart from all other gods. Religions say “Do”, Christ says “Done”. Religions say appease the gods, Christ says “I came not to be served, but to serve, and to lay down my life as a ransom for many”. What kind of God would do that?
What kind of God says “come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What kind of God tells us that ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God’, and yet while we were covered in the shame of the lying, the cheating, the stealing and all manner of sins, Christ stretched out his arms on that tree, and said ‘I’m OK with you’. I don’t need you to clean up your act to come to me. I don’t need you to sacrifice for me. I don’t need you to give me money, or serve me, or go to church for me, or bow down and worship me, or do anything to give up your freedom to live as you wish to live. He says ‘I love you this much. In fact, I have loved you since before you came to be, and I want to bless you, to love you, and to give you your heart’s desire. I came that you may have life, and to have it in abundance’. What kind of God is that?
So today, as we pause to remember the horrors of war, and we honor the men and women who laid down their lives to protect us from the tyranny of others, as we watch the parades and glance over to see an older veteran standing and saluting with tears running down his face, let’s also remember to offer prayers of thanks to Jesus, who as the author of life itself, made a way for us to live on, even after our lives on Earth have gone out. His death defeated death for all who ask.
It is fitting and right that we should honor our fallen and those who serve and have served in the military, in contrast to the shameful way we treated the soldiers who returned from Viet Nam. Let’s also honor the one to whom we owe our all in all.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed