(Red-letter portions of the New Testament)
John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
Although Jesus was not talking about Memorial Day, 2000 years ago, before there was a Memorial Day. The principle does apply to Memorial Day. We can give money, time, effort towards the things we love. The last full measure of our devotion is our life. After that we have nothing left to give in this life.
Surely, those who have given their lives for those they love, to protect them or to protect their freedom, their property, their livelihood, are to be honored. They "laid down their lives for their friends," their family, their loved ones, their country, or their way of life.
Jesus laid down his life for all of us. Jesus came "to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) He knew the prophecies about him being a suffering servant. Nevertheless, it was no small thing to be beaten within an inch of your life and then hung on a cross until life ended.
Jesus felt the emotion of laying down his life in such a gruesome and painful way. He prayed to His Father to find another way than the cross. "Father, if it be your will, may this cup pass from me." (Matthew 26:39). He prayed so fervently that he sweat drops like blood or perhaps even drops of blood.
It is no small thing to give your life for someone else, especially when you have time to think about it. It’s one thing to follow through and give our life for a friend or loved one, our country, or even an ideal. Who would die for a stranger or an enemy?
‘Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)
Jesus died for you and I and every person we don’t like, even our enemies. He died for those who killed him. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Honor those, who gave their last full measure of devotion for others, friends, loved ones, and country. Honor them always, not just on Memorial Day.
Even more so, honor Him who did more than that. Honor Jesus, who gave his life for you, while you were still a sinner, while you were still living in opposition to God, while you were still denying Christ. Honor Him. More than that, love him back.