Memorial Day

by John E. Werhan

Beginning sometime after the close of the War Between the States, communities and organizations set aside days for remembrance of those who had fallen in war. From its humble beginnings this tradition has become a national holiday.

Most families, if not all, have had individuals who have given their lives for the freedom we currently enjoy. Without those who gave of themselves, there is no telling what our nation or the world would be like today.

These men and women should be remembered for their sacrifice and the ultimate service they gave for you and me.

The establishing of memorials or the setting aside times of remembrances is rooted deep in the teachings of God. Throughout the Old Testament, we have examples of such established and commanded by God.

From the law given through Moses we have:

  • The Passover (Exodus 12:14)
  • The Laying up of the manna (Exodus 16:32)
  • The stones of the ephod (Exodus 28:12)
  • The fringes on the garments (Numbers 15:39)
  • The brazen censers (Numbers 16:40)
  • The twelve stones from Jordan (Joshua 4:7)
  • Joshua’s stone of memorial (Joshua 24:27, Matthew 26:13)

There were also memorials and remembrances set up for various occurrences by other individuals. These were established so what occurred in a place or occasion would not be forgotten. This would remind the people how to deal with such things.

The New Testament gives instruction concerning the most important memorial; the remembrance of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.

Jesus himself instituted this time of remembrance on the Passover previous to His death on the Cross (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20). Luke records the institution in his gospel:

“When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; “for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:14-20).

The apostle Paul notes the importance of this memorial in his writings to the Christians at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Paul in this text noted the purpose for this memorial, “…you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Within this same context there are other requirements noted as to the partaking of this memorial.

In Acts 20, it is noted the frequency and day that the apostles observed this memorial:

“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

The observance of the Lord’s Supper being on the first day of each week is also verified by early Christian historians.

As we observe this Memorial Day, let us stop and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Let us also partake of the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day in remembrance of him.

Never let us forget.

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