Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for another.
Sacrifice – The forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
This weekend my family and I were invited by a military family to go to Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. It was an amazingly beautiful May day. The sun was bright, the skies crisp and blue, the verdant grass just brilliant. It was a peaceful place. We were honored to be invited. As we walked across the miles and miles of softly sloping hills covered with thousands of headstones, I became more and more somber. We walked past lives, lives interrupted. Names on stones, last seen in places far away.
It was our turn to do the honoring. We cleaned gravestones, we gathered together and collectively prayed over each one. We thanked God for these men and women, and thanked them in turn for their service. We reached out to others in the cemetery and cried and prayed with them as well. It was the least we could do. These soldiers gave their all. With only their families left behind to testify to the love story.
As we gathered to leave, we watched eight Marines in dress uniform walk single-file onto the very edge of the field we were in, section 60. They were followed by seven attractive young women in dresses and multiples of small children, all no more than 4 or 5 years old, all dressed in little ties, jackets or girlie dresses.
I had just left that section, and knew that there were no gravestones there yet, just small markers noting a last name, date of death and date of burial. But they knew. They walked straight to the place where their buddy was waiting. Waiting to be reunited again with brothers in arms. Sure enough two of the Marines stopped and stood parallel at attention facing the marker. The other six men flanked the too-freshly dug grave, three on either side. They bent down. The wives stood back. The children held their mothers’ hands. Then I heard it. Pop. Pop. Pop. The sound of beer cans opening. Buddies just being buddies. Brothers remembering their love for another. Spending time together again. This time off the field of battle. It broke my heart and filled it with pride all at the same time. I was so proud of those guys. Proud of their wives and children for all being there to honor their friend. He laid his life down. They would lay their lives down for him and others….and I heard God’s whisper in my head, “There is no greater love than for a man to lay his life down for another”.
Like this man did.
The names on those headstones aren’t just names, they are people. Fathers, husbands, sons, mothers, wives and daughters….they offered their supreme act of love, all for a bigger ideal than them. For a purpose and a plan. For peace. For Love. For a hope of something better…and I am reminded of the example they followed. Whether they knew it or not.
Just like Jesus.
He laid his life down for us all. For a greater and bigger purpose and plan for all mankind. Because he loved. Because He LOVES. Because He died but defeated death, we have more than a HOPE of Something better. Many of those soldiers knew the truth of His Sacrifice. Maybe that is why they were able to do it themselves.
So it brings it all back to this. Jesus said to the apostles the night before his crucifixion, “Love each other as I have loved you.” If we as people could truly love each other as Jesus loves us, see each other as Jesus sees us, there would be no need for Arlington Cemetery or any others like it. So this Memorial Day, and every day after, let us all try to really honor sacrifice; of service men and women and more importantly, of Jesus’ sacrifice of His life as payment for all of our sins.
Let us take to heart the greatest commandment of all, to “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27