There’s a story about a city fella who was visiting relatives on a farm and the farmer gave a whistle and his dog herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. The city slicker said, “Wow, that’s some dog you’ve got there. What’s her name?” The forgetful farmer thought a minute, then asked, “What do you call that red flower that smells real good and has thorns on the stem?” The city slicker said, “A rose?” “Yeah, that’s it!” “Yeah, that’s it!” The farmer turned to his wife and said, “Hey Rose, what did we name this dog?”
One of our greatest human weaknesses is that we tend to forget. We forget where we put our keys. We forget where we left our glasses. We forget where we parked at Walmart. We walk into a room and forget why we are there. We are a forgetful people!
My sleep apnea Dr. said very politely, “Mr. Colangelo, these things happen as we get older. This may have more to do with your age than with the sleep apnea.” Needless to say, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. And even worse, my wife was sitting right there and she heard it too.
Because of our tendency to forget things we need things to help us remember. This is why we make a list before we go to the grocery store. This is why we write down appointments on the calendar. This is why we leave ourselves “sticky notes. This is why us guys put a sticker on the windshield to remind us when its time to change the oil.
We need “reminders.” We need things to help us remember. Something else that helps us to remember is memorials. Every gravestone in every cemetery across the world is a memorial to those who have lived and died. Sometimes we drive across a memorial bridge or on a memorial highway named in memory of some noble individual who left their mark on humanity. In Washington D.C. there are Memorials to Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. And there are Memorials to Commemorate each of the wars we have fought in.
Memorials help us to remember.
Soon is Memorial Day, a day when we pause to remember the great sacrifice of those brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. Many of the 1.1 million soldiers who have died in service to our country were just eighteen or nineteen year old boys right out of high school. They never got to go to college, or get married, or have a career. They sacrificed their all for us. We did nothing to deserve their sacrifice. We were not worthy of their sacrifice. Yet they freely laid down their lives for all of us.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) And think of the cost to all those moms and dads who sent their sons off to war only to get them back in a flag-draped casket. And think of the cost to all those wives who said a tearful goodbye to their soldier husband at the train station or airport, who became widowed at a very young age. And think of the cost to all those little children in this country who grew up without a daddy who lost his life on a battlefield. And think of the cost to the thousands of girlfriends who sent their soldier boyfriend off to war with the promise of marriage when he got home, who had their hopes and dreams shattered by an enemy bullet.
As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “War at best is terrible!” Here in our scripture text in Romans chapter five, the apostle Paul reminds us of another who sacrificed His life for us; not a soldier, but our Savior. Let’s take a few minutes to “remember the greatest sacrifice of all.”
First of all, let’s consider our great unworthiness:
1. Just as you and I are unworthy of the sacrifice all of our brave soldiers made for us, we are even more unworthy of the sacrifice our Savior made for us.
2. Paul uses four terms in this passage to describe just how unworthy you and I are of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. (A) We were helpless (6a) “For when we were still without strength...” That word “strength” means “helpless.” You and I were “totally helpless” to save ourselves. Abraham was helpless to save himself. David was helpless to save himself. Moses and Elijah were helpless to save themselves. Every last one of us was “helpless” to save ourselves. Why?
Because we were “spiritually dead.” Dead men are helpless. Dead men are powerless. Dead men are without strength! In Ephesians 2:1 Paul tells us we were “dead in our trespasses and sins.” We couldn’t be good enough....or moral enough.....or perfect enough to save ourselves. We were so “helpless” we needed a Savior to make us alive spiritually!
Next Paul tells us:
• We were ungodly (v. 6) The godly one died for the ungodly ones. The holy one died for the unholy ones. The perfect one died for the imperfect ones. The righteous one died for the unrighteous ones.
• We were sinners v.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
• We were God’s enemies v.10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 1. Christ did the utmost for us when we were the least deserving of it.
3. Four times in these three short verses, Paul reminds us Christ died for us. v. 6 “ Christ died for the ungodly.” v. 7. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. v.8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 3. Though we were helpless Christ died for us!
Though we were ungodly Christ died for us. Though we were sinners Christ died for us. Though we were God’s enemies Christ died for us.
4. Christ didn’t die for us because we were lovable or deserving or worthy. He didn’t die for us because He saw potential in us. He died for us because we were absolutely powerless to save ourselves.
5. He became our sacrifice. He became our substitute. He took our punishment. He got what we deserved.
6 Until we come to see our total depravity, and worthlessness, and our powerlessness to save ourselves, we cannot fully appreciate the love and sacrifice Jesus made for us.
7. You see, for the Christian, everyday should be Memorial Day. Every day we ought to remember the great sacrifice Christ made for us, and give thanks to God for His unspeakable gift.
This Memorial Day let us remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us and every day let us remember the greatest sacrifice of all — Jesus died for the whole world! Be safe and God Bless you!