“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
On May 2, 1915, John McCrae, a Canadian military surgeon, had the unenviable task of burying his good friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer, who was blown to pieces by a direct hit from a German shell. The same day, he wrote his mother saying, “Heavy gunfire again this morning. Lieutenant Helmer was killed at the guns. I said the Committal Service over him as well as I could from memory. A soldier’s death!”
As he sat in the early morning sunshine the following day, he could hear the larks singing between the crash of the guns. He could see the rows of white crosses in the nearby cemetery, and he could see the fields thick with poppies, in spite of the carnage of war. And he penned the words of that now well-known poem, “In Flanders Fields”. But McCrae, himself, became a victim of that awful war that demanded so many lives. The poison gas used by the Germans exacerbated his athsma, ultimately resulting in pneumonia, and at 1:30 a.m. on January 28, 1918, John McCrae died of double pneumonia and meningitis.
Freedom is not free! What a tremendous cost was paid by so, so many men and women in the past, so that you and I can enjoy freedom from tyranny today. And our military continues to serve in many places around the world to protect our peace. We do well to remember, on this Remembrance Day and throughout the year, and to be grateful – extremely grateful – for the sacrifice of millions of lives for our liberty!
Yet, there is One who paid a higher price for our freedom. There is One who died, not for His friends, but for His enemies! One who paid the ultimate price, who suffered the agonies of hell for those who mocked Him, spit upon Him, cursed Him and nailed Him to the tree! May God help us to live our lives in the remembrance of all who died to purchase our freedom, but most of all, in the constant remembrance of the tremendous price of the blood of the unblemished Lamb, paid at the cross of Calvary to secure our eternal freedom in the new Heavens and the new Earth, where there will be peace forevermore! Hallelujah! What a gospel! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!