As I write this article it is on a day known as “Memorial Day.” Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. We should be thankful and bestow honor upon all who have ever served honorably in defense of our nation, whether they sacrificed their lives or not. As originally intended, we certainly owe a deep debt of gratitude to all who lost their lives in order that we might enjoy all the freedoms we enjoy today. May we never take these freedoms for granted nor forget the honor due those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. My dad’s youngest brother was killed during the “Battle of the Bulge” in World War II.
As I contemplate this day, I also remember another sacrifice that we must never forget nor take for granted. That is the sacrifice of “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16) for our sins. Paul wrote, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).
This sacrifice was for everyone. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9 NKJV). The righteousness of God demands that, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). In the third chapter of the Book of Romans Paul shows how God can remain just and permit the sinner to be saved. It is due to this tremendous sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Speaking of this sacrifice, Paul declares that, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:24-25). John adds that “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2). He also reminds us of this again in I John 4:10 where he writes, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
On each first day of the week, we meet “to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Paul reminds us of its purpose: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come” (I Cor. 1:26). In contemplation of this tremendous sacrifice, we should say with Paul, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Cor. 9:15).
Paul M. Wilmoth