Herald Journal Columns
May 17, 2004 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Remember the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom

By Rev. Martin Schoenfeld, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

At the end of this month, our nation will be observing Memorial Day.

At a time like this, when our nation is at war and soldiers are in harm’s way, this annual day of remembrance seems to take on an even greater significance.

Just as there were in the past, there are, today, soldiers who are willing to give their lives for the sake of others. Many people have given their lives so that we may be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have today.

The Revolutionary War was fought so that we would be a free people to govern ourselves. One of the reasons the Civil War was fought was so that those in slavery could be set free. The world wars were fought in order to free others from the rule of dictators and prevent such threats from coming to our shores.

Of course, I have named only a few of the struggles we have had over the years as a nation. There have been many wars fought and many people have laid down their lives so that we may live as a free people, and it is only right that on Memorial Day, we take some time to remember those who have given their lives so that we may live in freedom.

It is equally appropriate this year that we especially remember those soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and have given their lives in Iraq, so that we may live our lives free from the constant threat of terror, and so that the people of Iraq may be given a chance to live in freedom, as well.

Many soldiers and their families are continuing to make sacrifices, disrupting their lives for the greater good of all.

However, this Memorial Day, let us as Christians not forget the greatest sacrifice of all time. It is the sacrifice which Jesus made for us upon the cross so that we may live our lives free from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came into this world to sacrifice His life for us. He suffered and died upon the cross in order to free us from our sin.

The sacrifice of Jesus is different from any of these others. First of all, Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Secondly, Jesus rose from the dead, and is still alive today.

When we believe in Jesus and trust that He was sacrificed upon the cross for our sins, and that He rose from the dead so that we may live eternally, we will be set free from sin’s grip on us, and we can live in eternity free from sin and death.

We no longer need to fear death. We need no longer live as slaves to sin and its grip of guilt. We have been set free by Christ Jesus. You can be certain that “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

This Memorial Day, as we gather together and remember those who have sacrificed so much and even given their lives so that we can live in freedom, let us go to the Lord in prayer.

Let us pray that God would be with the families of those who have lost loved ones. Pray that God would give courage, strength, patience, and success to those who are still serving in our armed forces.

As Christians, however, let us also remember the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us when the sinless Son of God gave His life upon the cross so that we might live.

We have been set free from sin – for our sins have been forgiven. We have been set free from the fear of death. We know that one day God will raise us up and grant to us eternal life in heavenly glory.

Through faith in Jesus, we have been set free to enjoy eternity in heavenly peace where there will be no hate, no wars, no terrorists, no sin, or death. In heaven, there will be eternal glory and joy because Jesus, our Savior, has made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Since we have been set free by the love of Jesus Christ, we are now free to go and love one another, just as Jesus first loved us.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13


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