"A Memorial with Hope"
Many will celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow. It is a time of remembering fallen soldiers from all wars. But Paul will walk through history to tell a story about the one who died and rose again. It is he that we remember as we gather today.
A Memorial With Hope
A. We are a blessed country. God has been good to us. We have in this country the freedom to come together in faith and proclaim that faith in our community. We may be a politically divided country, but we are united in the freedom to express our beliefs. We are blessed because there are those who have died to protect the freedoms you and I hold dear.
B. Each year ceremonies are held in graveyards around this great country to honor the men and women who gave their lives to allow us to have the freedoms we hold dear. One of the most solemn ceremonies is the laying of the wreath that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On March 4, 1921 Congress approved a Resolution providing for the burial of an unknown and unidentified American soldier of World War I. On Oct. 24, 1921 at 10 a.m. a ceremony took place in which a solider was chosen and began a journey from Europe back to the United States. On Nov. 11 of that year a ceremony was held and the remains placed where they are today. On the back of the tomb appears the inscription “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God”. This is the only inscription appearing on the Tomb. The tomb has been served by an honor guard since 1925 and since July 1, 1937 the tomb has been given 24 hour watch. It is an honor to stand before the tomb.
C. Almost 2000 years ago another tomb had a guard placed in front of it. This guard was not there to honor the one who was placed inside, but put there on the orders of a Roman official at the request of the Jewish leaders. The one placed inside was not an “unknown soldier” but one named Jesus who was, just days before, was placed on a cross of public execution even though he was not guilty of any crime. But we are told what happened that day.
I. Paul’s First Recorded Sermon
A. Acts 13 gives us Paul’s first recorded sermon. As was his custom, Paul would begin by going to the Jews. When he and Barnabas came to Antioch in Pisdia, they met on the Sabbath in a synagogue. Invited to speak, Paul tells the story of Jesus.
B. He begins much like Stephen did in his sermon by sharing some of the well-known Jewish history. The Jewish people longed for the day of the Messiah, the Anointed One. They knew that he alone could restore Israel, but the problem was they did not understand what Israel the Messiah would restore. Paul begins with the Exodus from Egypt, reminds them of the time of the judges and brings them to days of the kings. One of the common understandings was that the Messiah would come from the line of David and be born in the city of David. Acts 13:23. What was promised to David, what was talked about in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah was that one would come from David’s line as a savior for Israel. A new king.
C. But Paul wanted to share with them a message of hope, a message of Salvation. Paul tells the story of how those living in Jerusalem did not recognize this Savior King, how instead they had Pilate execute him and then they laid in a tomb. But God was not done with Jesus, for he raised him up from the dead.
D. Read Acts 13:36-39. David was laid in a tomb and his body decayed, but Jesus was raised from the dead and lives! Let it be known that through this Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you this day.
II. A Memorial With Hope
A. I mentioned the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI at the beginning of this sermon. There are now four tombs commemorating four wars in which Americans have died and some of the bodies are still unknown. We honor our brave men and women, who died for to defend our freedoms, but in Jesus we don’t have a tomb of a dead body, we have an empty tomb because the one we honor rose up to conquer death and to give us life.
B. We have a memorial with hope. As wonderful as the Law was, it could not do for us what Jesus did at the cross and the resurrection. Heb. 10:11-14.
C. Each week we gather around together and in our worship take time to come around the Lord’s Table. The Bible tells us that on the night that Jesus was betrayed he told his disciples that he eagerly desired to eat this Passover with them and would not eat it again until it found its fulfillment in the kingdom.
D. When Paul reminded the Corinthians of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper he told them at we would eat this bread and drink this cup “until he comes.” Our salvation was given to us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The communion I take is a communion with Jesus and with you. He is present with us. It is a memorial with hope. Each week we look forward to the coming and proudly proclaim that we are saved. Saved through the blood of Jesus on the cross and living with him because of the resurrection.
III. The Personal Choice
A. Here is where Paul took those Jews that day and where I leave you today. Acts 13:40-41. You have a choice to make. The facts of empty tomb and the memorial of the Lords Supper have been placed before you, but what you do with it is up to you. God is doing a work today and the question becomes, will you believe?
B. Habakkuk warned that Babylon would come and take over the people. The threat was if the people did not repent they would be taken captive. We know the people did not repent and they were taken captive. Even though the truth was told them, they would not listen. It is that same warning that is given to these Jews and to us today. Jesus has come into this world. His teaching, his death and his resurrection are all set before you. You may wonder at him and not see him. People scoff at Jesus today and in the end will perish in their own sin, separated from God because they refused to believe.
C. That does not have to be with you. You don’t have to be blinded. You can believe. Your eyes have been opened, it is now up to you to decide what you will do with Jesus. Here is One who has the power to forgive your sins, who has already paid the price, but what you choose to do is up to you.
A. Tomorrow many will gather for cook-outs and parties. There will be moments when you might be patriotic and remember those who have fought, served and died for the freedoms we hold dear. But the greatest freedom you can have is the freedom from sin.
B. I would like to close with reading the first part of Rom. 6. Have you died? Have you been buried with Jesus in baptism and raised to a new life? You can have your freedom today.