Intro: In April 1863, in Columbus, Mississippi, after decorating graves of her two sons who died representing their beloved south-land, an elderly woman walked to two mounds of dirt at the corner of the cemetery to place memorial flowers there also. "What are you doing?" friends shouted, "Those are the graves of two union soldiers." Softly that compassionate mother said, "I know. I also know that somewhere in the North, a mother or a young wife mourns for them as we do for ours."
That loving deed set in motion our celebration which has become known as Memorial Day. We honor the war dead once a year, but their sacrifice is evident every single day of the year! Today, we want to honor the memory of all those who have sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom. Those thousands of sacrificed lives were not given in vain! Because of their sacrifice, we are free today and have the right to assemble ourselves together and worship our God.
Think of the numbers of those who died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today:
Revolutionary War 25,324
Civil War 498,332
World War I 116,710
World War II 407,316
Korean War 54,546
Vietnam War 58,098
First Gulf War 293
Iraq War 819
Today, we do not want to diminish the sacrifice and service of those men and women who have served our nation so faithfully and so valiantly, but I want to talk about one great Soldier. This great Soldier stepped onto a harsh battlefield one day. He took up arms and entered the fight knowing that it would cost Him everything.
This Soldier bravely entered that battlefield and won a great victory, but at a terrible price. This Great Soldier gave His life, not for a nation, but for all humanity. His was not a life given in vain, but the sacrifice of His life served to set free the captives of sin.
For the child of God, Every Day Is Memorial Day. We need to remember the sacrifice of Heaven’s Greatest Soldier. Today, let us remember a man named Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us all.
The verse before us today is probably and ancient hymn of the early church. In its six short stanzas, it tells us all about the Gospel of grace. I would like to look at this brief, but powerful song. I want to share three great blessings that are made plain through its words. Let’s look at this verse together and as we do, I want to tell you why I say that Every Day Is Memorial Day.
I. MAY WE ALWAYS REMEMBER HIS APPEARING
(Ill. The phrase, “God was manifest in the flesh” reminds us of one of the greatest events in human history. It reminds us of the moment when the Creator, God Himself, stepped out of eternity into time and came into this world as a human baby.)
A. Jesus Laid Aside His Heavenly Address – Like every soldier who has ever served in the armed forces, when Jesus came to this earth, He also left His home. He had, from all eternity, lived in Heaven. He had existed in a place of perfection, free from sin, pain, suffering and sorrow. He originated in a land where He was exalted, honored and worshiped. Yet, He willingly left all that behind to enter this sin cursed, hate filled world. He came to a world where even those who had longed for his appearing would reject Him, John 1:11. He came to a land where He would be ridiculed, hated and killed. Yet, He came anyway! God came to the earth and He robed Himself in human flesh, John 1:1; 14. He lived as a man among men and died as a man to redeem man from his sins! May we never forget that our Savior is no ordinary man, but He is God in human flesh!
B. Jesus Laid Aside His Heavenly Apparel – When a soldier enters the army, he ceases to wear the same clothes he wore as a civilian. He dons the uniform of his nation. When Jesus came into this world; He willingly concealed His heavenly fame within and earthly frame. He took upon Himself the body of a man, Phil. 2:5-8. Here was God, the Creator of the universe, born as a baby in Bethlehem. Here was God, to Whom belonged the earth and the fullness thereof, with no place to lay His head, Matt. 8:20. Here was God, Who had made everything that was, and Who said, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine and the fullness thereof,” Psa. 50:12, absolutely dependent upon a human mother for His necessary food.
Because Jesus left heaven and came into this world, He knew pain, suffering, rejection, hunger, thirst, loneliness, and many other of the problems that are part of the human condition. He suffered all that He did so that He might feel our pain and know how to comfort us when our trials come, Heb. 4:14-16; Heb. 2:18; 1 Pet. 5:7.
When Jesus came into this world as a man, He lived His life as a man. He died on e the cross as a man. He rose again from the dead as a man. He ascended back into Heaven as a man. And, when He comes again, He will return as a man. He willingly and forever laid aside His omnipresence and limited Himself to a human body for all eternity because He loved us.
II. MAY WE ALWAYS REMEMBER HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS
(Ill. Then Paul says he was, “justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world…” In those four short phrases, Paul tells us about the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul exalts Him for His accomplishments.)
A. Remember His Perfect Service – The phrases “justified in the Spirit” and “seen of angels” speak of the divine approval that was upon His life and work. From the time Jesus was baptized in Jordan and began His earthly ministry, the power of the Holy Ghost was upon His life. In fact, Jesus did all He did not as God, but as a Spirit-filled man! He perfectly accomplished what Adam had failed to do. The miracles, the powerful teaching, the changed lives and the statements of God the Father, Matt. 3:17, Matt. 17:5, prove that Jesus was operating under divine approval. God the Father saw the service He rendered and He was pleased!
Another proof that God’s sanction was upon the Lord Jesus is the statement “seen of angels.” From the announcement of His birth, Luke 2, to the angels’ ministry to Him at His temptation, Matt. 4, to the angels who spoke to the women at the empty tomb, Jesus was the recipient of angelic presence. They watched as their Creator was born. They watched as He lived among men and fulfilled the plan of God.
They watched with their hands on the hilts of their swords as He died, just waiting for His orders to come and fight for Him, Matt. 26:53. (Ill. How the angels must have wondered as the plan of salvation was accomplished at Calvary!)
When Jesus came to this world, He was born, He lived and He died without sin, 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:21-22. He perfectly fulfilled the Law of God, and His service was accepted by the Father! That’s why I don’t have to keep the Law. That’s why I don’t have to try to please God to be saved. Jesus has already satisfied all the demands of God, 1 John 2:2; Rom. 3:25. His work has been accepted by the Father and is imputed to all those who believe in Him by faith, Rom. 4:24.
B. Remember His Perfect Sacrifice – The phrase “justified in the Spirit” also speaks about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. You see, Jesus did not just come to this world to live, but He came to die, Mark 10:45; John 18:37. And die He did! Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless Son of God was taken to a place called Calvary and nailed to a cross. He did not die because He was a bad man. He did not die because He deserved it. Death, after all, was reserved for sinners, Rom. 6:23. He died because He came into this world to save sinners, 1 Tim. 1:15. If He was going to save sinners, then He would have to die, and He did, Heb. 9:22.
When Jesus died on the cross, He suffered in ways that we can never imagine, Isa. 52:14. But, all of His suffering was for one reason: You! He died so that you might have life! He endured the cross so that you might be saved. He shed His blood to redeem you from your sins and to make it possible for you to be saved. His death made “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Rom. 10:13, a real possibility! So, let us remember today a man named Jesus Who took our sins upon Himself and died in our place at the cross!
Of course, after Jesus died, He was buried in a tomb and sealed up. Three days later, He was “justified in the Spirit” when God brought Him back from the dead!
This is further proof that Jesus was Who He claimed to be. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was God’s “Amen!” to everything Jesus claimed to be!
Because He died and raised gain, His death has value. Now, any lost person can bow before him, call on His name and through faith in His death and resurrection, be saved forever by the grace of God!
C. Remember His Perfect Salvation – We are told that this Jesus was “preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world...” Again, we are reminded that His life and death were not just for Him. He did what He did because He had a plan to save the lost!
1. His Salvation Is Proclaimed – Here, Paul reminds us of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, John 1:11, and of how the Gospel came to a people who did not know God. What grace that God would allow His glorious Gospel to be preached among people who did not know Him and did not want Him. He sent His saving Gospel to a people who were helplessly and hopelessly lost in sin, Eph. 2:1-4; 2:12-13!
What grace that God would reach out to people like us who are so vile and so wicked. What grace that God would fix it so that we could be saved through simple faith. What grace that we were allowed to hear about so great a salvation! What grace that the Word of God came to our hearts in glory and the demonstration of power, Rom. 10:17. Thank God for the proclamation of the Gospel!
2. His Salvation Is Powerful – We are told by the phrase “believed on in the world” that this Gospel message is a powerful one, Romans 1:16. When lost sinners hear it, those ordained to eternal life are saved by His grace, Acts 13:48. I praise the Lord for the day His Gospel was preached not just to my ears, but also to my lost, dead heart. Thank God that the Spirit of God regenerated my dead soul and gave me the faith to believe in Him! I praise God for His salvation today!
That’s why we must never give up on the lost. We never know when and where the Lord will move in power and save that precious soul! Thank God, He is in the saving business!
III. MAY WE ALWAYS REMEMBER HIS ASCENSION
(Ill. The last phrase of this verse is “received up into glory.” Here, Paul is challenging us to remember the ascension of Jesus back into heaven after His resurrection. There is far more to His ascension than Him just rising back into Heaven. There is a three-fold blessing here that we need to examine and remember today.)
A. The Glory Of His Ascension – After accomplishing His earthly mission, Jesus ascended back to His heavenly home and was enveloped in the glory He had before He was born in Bethlehem, Acts 1:9-11; Phil. 2:8-11. When we see Him in glory, He will still have a body. His body will still be marked by the nail prints in His hands and feet. The marks of His thorny crown will still be evident. The stripes upon His back will still proclaim His eternal love for you and me. But, when we see Him on that day, He will not be the lowly Nazarene. He will no longer appear as Isaiah described Him, Isa. 53:2-3. When we see Him then, He will shine with a glory brighter than that of the son. He will be the light of Heaven, Rev. 21:23. If you could see Him today, you would be awestruck with His glory; blinded by His brilliance; and speechless in His presence! We serve a glorious Lord today and one day, His servants will see Him, Rev. 22:4.
B. The Grace Of His Ascension – When Jesus ascended, the Bible tells us that He sat down at the right hand of God, Heb. 10:12. This tells us that His work of redeeming sinners was forever finished! He completed that work and ascended back to Heaven as our High Priest. There, at the right hand of God in Heaven,
Jesus makes intercession for you and me as we journey through this land toward home, Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34. Thank God for a Friend in High places! Thank God for One Who pleads our case in the courtroom of glory. He prays for us, and He is our Advocate against the attacks of the enemy, 1 John 2:1. That is grace greater than we can imagine!
C. The Gravity Of His Ascension – When Jesus ascended back into Heaven, He did so with the promise that He would return again some day, Acts 1:11; John 14:1-3. The fact that He is returning for His people adds an element of gravity to His return. For, when He comes, He is not coming again for everyone; He is only coming for His people. He is coming only for those who are saved by His grace and who are washed in His blood. Therefore, friend, you need to be sure that you are saved today so that when He comes, you can go to Heaven to be with Him for all eternity, Matt. 24:44.
Conclusion: Friends over 1.1 million men and women have died to guarantee our freedom as Americans. They gave their all so that we might enjoy all the blessings of this great land. Today, we honor they memory and their sacrifice. Thank God for every one of them.
But, I would remind you that Every Day Is Memorial Day! Why? One day Heaven’s greatest Soldier came to this earth and died to give us eternal freedom from the penalty, power and presence of sin. Thank God for His unspeakable gift! May we, the redeemed, never forget Who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and where He is taking us some day!
Oh friend, are you ready to meet Him? Are your sins under the blood today? Have you been to Calvary and trusted Jesus as your personal Savior? If you haven’t, then I invite you to come to Jesus, bow before Him and claim Him as your Savior!
If you are saved, maybe you need to get before Him and tell Him how much you love him for all that He has done for you. He is worthy of our praise and of all the worship and glory we can offer to Him. What a Savior!
GOD BLESS YOU.
Pastor Alan Carr holds the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees. Currently, he teaches at West Lenoir Baptist School of Ministry (Where Dr. James Lockee, former Pastor of West Lenoir Baptist Church in Lenoir, NC, is founder and President.) Brother Alan teaches Homiletics to first and second year students and he also teaches in the graduate program; his courses are Christology and Manuscript Evidence.