By Robert Johnson
This Monday we celebrate Memorial Day, in honor of the nation’s armed services personnel killed in wartime. The holiday was originally called Decoration Day because it is a time for decorating graves with flowers and flags. Over time, the designation Memorial Day became far more common. It began shortly after the end of the Civil War, around 1868, and after World War I observances were changed to honor the dead in all American wars, starting with the American Revolution. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971.
It is appropriate to remember those who sacrificed their lives that we might have the liberty we do. Throughout our history as a nation, from the Revolutionary War to the present conflict in Afghanistan, countless numbers have offered themselves to enable us to have our freedom and to keep our freedom. Each generation has its own battles to face, its own enemies who seek to inflict harm, and its own challenges that have to be faced. Freedom truly isn’t free, as its price is bought with blood.
Each Lord’s Day we assemble together to observe the greatest memorial of all, that of our Lord’s sacrifice for each of us. Sin puts us in bondage spiritually, placing us in a way of life that Scripture describes as slavery. To be a slave of sin brings only death (Rom. 6:16, 23). Once enslaved, we are unable to rid ourselves of its effects (Rom. 5:6) and remain captive all our lives unless someone intervenes. Christ paid the price for us by becoming one of us, living the human life in every way, even to being tempted, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). The blood shed on the cross was not for His own sins then, but for the sins of the whole world. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
In looking forward to this sacrifice, Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). Knowing the truth of Scripture, obeying it and living by it, genuine faith, provides us access to the liberty the blood of Christ provides in God’s grace. “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). The blessings of Jesus’ sacrifice are available to everyone, but only those who humble themselves to Him as Lord, and yield their lives in submission to Him, will truly know the freedom He offers. “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).
May we never forget the price paid for the freedom our nation enjoys, as it is found in the sacrifice of many men and women. May we also never forget the price Christ paid for our freedom spiritually from sin, that we might have life in Him today, and the promise of life eternal tomorrow. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…” (2 Tim. 2:8).