Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV
This verse is very appropriate for Memorial Day. On this particular day each year, we remember with heartfelt appreciation all who sacrificed to serve their country. We fly our flags at half-staff until noon, then raise them to their full height, decorate their graves with flags, and attend parades to honor them and keep their memory alive.
In the prior verse, Jesus commands, "Love each other as I have loved you." Only with a great love for others would someone be willing to give their life. Even if memorialized as an act of honor and nobility, the underlying sacrificial act is one of love.
Jesus, in offering his life, acted not only from love for his friends but as an atonement for all our sins. By following his command and example, to love each other, we become his friends (v. 14). Though we may never be called upon to lay down our lives, we can obey his command to love each other completely.
Father God, we give you thanks for your love for us. On this day, we commemorate the sacrifice of those fallen in service. We look forward to the day when there will be no more need for war. We want to love in the pure sacrificial way you desire us to love but often fall short. So help us, we pray, to grow in love for you and each other. In Christ, Jesus, we pray. Amen.