Remember Those Who Gave It All in The Fight Against Tyranny: How Jesus Was the Ultimate Soldier

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Gospel of Luke
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Luke 23:26-31 — Memorial Day. It is the day in the United States on which we honor our valiant military men (and women now) who have given their life to defend the honor and interests of the United States. It is ironic we arrive at this passage today as Jesus is being led away to the cross. For many who have died for our country, there were series of events that could not be changed that led to their deaths fighting for a cause we believed to be right. Jesus is now in the middle of unalterable events that will led to his death in a cause that not only He believed to be right but He knew to be right. Our soldiers play small parts in a larger picture with a larger purpose. We thank them today for doing their part in a larger picture. We must thank Jesus in His earthly life for playing His part in the larger picture. For without the sacrifice of our valiant soldiers, we would not be a free nation. For without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we would not be free from the tyranny of sin.

When we think of the sacrifices of our soldiers today, we do not know all of the gory details of their battles. Some will tell you about them with graphic detail that tells you of the horrors of war. Some others remain quiet about it refusing to speak of it. There was a friend of my dad when my dad was serving two churches in the Travelers Rest, SC area when we were there in the late 70’s-early 80’s that served in Vietnam that refused to speak of the horrors of war that he endured. It was too painful to speak of. Luke does not mention the flogging of Jesus because as a physician I bet that it was too painful for him to write about in his gospel. Many soldiers of our armed forces have been captured and tortured during war and have suffered unimaginable horrors. Beaten within an inch of their lives at times. The valiant ones never give up. They think of not compromising their fellow soldiers. They think of the cause they are fighting for. They never gave up on the purpose for which they were enduring great suffering. Jesus is the same kind of soldier. He endured much pain and suffering but never forget to keeping pushing on through for the purpose for which He was fighting.

Here today in this passage, we know from Mark 15:15 that Jesus was flogged before his final sentencing to death. Lead tipped whips would beat and bruise the flesh and then rip the flesh upon recoil of the whip by the holder of the whip. We know from Matthew 27:27-31 that Jesus was beaten too with sticks by the Roman soldiers and mocked and spat upon by them. Flesh ripped from the body. Body bruised and batter. Bleeding from every area of his earthly body. Then beaten by sticks on a body that was raw meat to begin with. Luke is silent about this. It may have been to painful for him to write about. But no wonder in Luke we find Simon of Cyrene being forced to carry Jesus’ cross. Jesus must have been so weak from his beatings that He could not carry the cross. He must have been beaten to a pulp because Roman soldiers would rarely show this kind of mercy to a condemned man. For all the negativity Mel Gibson took for the Passion of the Christ, I think he got it right about what Jesus looked like after having been whipped and beaten. Jesus kept moving though. He kept surviving. Even though if He was beaten so severely like the Passion of Christ portrays, it would have been easy for Him to just give up and stop this whole mess. However, Jesus soldiers on. He knows there is a higher purpose and point to His temporary suffering here. He had all of eternity in view. His momentary deep physical pain was not going to deter Him from His goal. He was not going to throw the eternal future under the bus just because He was suffering. What a soldier!

Jesus though bloodied and battered was able to speak to the wailing women along His trip to the cross. He was able to warn them of the coming doom of Jerusalem. Jesus is believed to have died in 30AD so it was only 40 years later than Rome so completely tired of the rebellion in Palestine that they sent the full force of the Roman army against Jerusalem and laid it to waste. Nothing remained. Not even the Temple. The only thing that remains of it today is the Western Wall of the Temple grounds. Jesus warns them that they should not cry for Him (for He was really doing His Father’s will). They should lament what was about to happen to them so four decades ahead. First, Jerusalem was starved to death by a siege and what was still living was killed brutally when Titus led his armies inside Jerusalem. Jesus knew that His death was serving a purpose and He was doing it willingly. It reminds us the defiance of our soldiers captured by the Japanese in the Philippines. The Death March to Bataan. They were defiant to the end in the belief that the United States would win the war and the tyranny of the Japanese military would be destroyed. Jesus defiantly warns the onlookers that His death was for a greater purpose and a greater eternal victory. He warns us today through this statement that the things that we count on as eternal are just fleeting and that we must look to his death as the source of our eternal victory not the things of this world. What a soldier! Preaching about the kingdom even when suffering unimaginable earthly physical pain.

On this day, we salute our fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price for the defense of American freedom. They gave their lives to protect our interests around the world. They gave their lives because they believed in honor, duty and service to a country that they love and were willing to defend with their lives. Soldiers today have various reasons for going into the military but common thread they have is ultimately when it comes down to it, they love their brothers in arms and they love this country. They are willing to put theirselves in harm’s way and to die for a way of life that they believe in. They believe ultimately in the freedom that they defend. They give their lives in defense of it. They defend you and me and we don’t even know 99.9% of them. They work on our behalf daily without us even knowing it until we take pause to do so. What soldiers we have!

Jesus is the the ultimate soldier that suffered unimaginable pain and suffering even before He got to the cross. Why? Because He had a higher purpose. He knew that His suffering was in defense of us, you and I, from the condemnation to hell that you and I deserve. He fought for us by dying at the cross. He gave His life willingly so that we could have freedom from the tyranny of sin. He gave His life for you and for me even before we came to know Him personally. He gave His life so that someday you would come to know the peace and comfort of the eternal presence of God. He gave His life for that. We give pause when we accept Him as our Savior and we live a life of thanks for the remainder of our days for his sacrifice. As we are eternally grateful to our soldiers who gave their life for the freedom we enjoy in this country, we give thanks to Jesus Christ for the eternal freedom that He gave us through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. What a soldier was He!

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