Andy Hollifield 6-6-17
Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was freeborn.
Quite often, if we aren’t careful, we will take our freedom for granted without ever realizing at what cost we have obtained it. Although we were “free-born” someone paid a price for the liberty we enjoy. On this date in 1944 the Allied forces, including the US, invaded northern France. Their mission was to liberate France from Nazi occupation. The official name was “Operation Overlord” but it simply became known by its code name; D-Day. It was the largest amphibious military operation in history. By dawn, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground. There were also 6000 landing craft carrying at least 155,000 soldiers landing on beaches that included Gold, Juno, Sword, and Utah. Omaha beach proved to be a tougher battle in which 2000 allied troops were lost. By the end of the day, over 155,000 Allied troops consisting of Americans, British, and Canadians had taken the beaches of Normandy. By the end of June, 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles were in Normandy preparing to march across Europe. Over 9000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded and the US had managed to get only about 25 percent of its supplies on shore, the rest had been lost. This battle however, greatly diminished the Germans capability and proved to be the turning point of the war. The numbers vary greatly and will likely never be known as far as how many were wounded, missing, taken prisoner, and killed. The numbers even vary on how many were in Normandy by the end of June from 850,000 to over 1 million. By August 1944, Northern France had been liberated.
Today, 9383 servicemen and 4 women are buried in the American cemetery in Normandy overlooking Omaha Beach. Allied forces had already lost nearly 12,000 men in operations prior to D-Day. The war ended in August 1945 with the dropping of the atomic bombs by the US on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The war ended with some say well over 50 million military and civilian deaths throughout the 6 years since Hitler had invaded Poland in 1939. All of these figures come from various official agencies as well as History.com and Foxnews.com. My point with all of this is simply that there was a great price paid for our freedom. Had the Allied forces not been successful, Germany would have likely taken over the entire world. A great price was paid for the freedom we enjoy and we should honor the men and women that served throughout the war to the best of our ability. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, as of 2016 there are around 620,000 American WW II veterans still alive.
There was another time in history that a similar sacrifice was made. About 1939 years before the start of World War II, a man from another land had signed up voluntarily to sacrifice his life for the benefit of all mankind. Even though at the time, his service was rejected and refused and not appreciated, he still was intent on going onward till his death for even those that had viciously rejected him. He could have refused to serve but instead, gave up his royal seat and came to serve with common man. Imagine that! A man laying aside his royal crown to fight a fight that he could have stayed out of for a world full of people who had no regard for his life or the fact he was willing to lay it down in battle. Oh yes, there was a great battle that had raged since long before man inhabited the Earth. It began before recorded time when the arch angel Lucifer along with about a third part of the host of heaven, rose up in opposition and attempted to overthrow God. Of course Lucifer and his followers were condemned and expelled and cast down to hell which was prepared for them. This great man who was willing to sign on for this battle was none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a third part of the Holy Trinity of heaven, begotten on this earth by an overshadowing of the Holy Ghost on a little Jewish virgin girl. He had chosen to lay aside his royalty in Revelation chapter 5 and come to this world in the form of a baby and grow up and sacrifice his life for the sins of mankind which God had created for his glory to inhabit the earth. Sometime after God had created the first man Adam and his wife Eve, Lucifer, who is now called Satan, came where they lived in the garden of Eden, and deceived Eve into believing that disobedience to God would not result in death. God had known this would happen and already had a plan in place for the remission of man’s sin. The Son volunteered in Revelation 5 to come to this earth to be the supreme sacrifice that would satisfy the heart of God and result in forgiveness of man’s sin. All of heaven and earth and beneath the earth had been searched but no other perfect man was found that was suitable to be that sacrifice. The rest is history. That man Jesus, died on the Roman cross for sins he didn’t commit so that the ones that had committed them could go free. The first of which was Barabas who had been sentenced to death for his part in an insurrection against the government. The leader of the day named Pilate, gave a mob that had assembled against Jesus, a choice between the criminal Barrabas and this man called Jesus. The crowd, blinded by hatred and not realizing that the will of God was being fulfilled, chose to let Barrabas live and to crucify Jesus in his place. There had been only mock trials complete with false witnesses against him, senseless beatings, public shaming, and even as he hung on the cross dying, the crowd and the Roman soldiers united in ridiculing and making fun of him. Still not realizing what they were doing, they continued and even stripped him of his clothes and the soldiers gambled for them. A strange darkness came over the earth from about the sixth hour of the day till the ninth hour. That is from noon till three in the afternoon. During this time as he neared the end of his life, Jesus cried with a loud voice praying and said, “Into thy hands I commend my Spirit” and with those words he gave up the ghost and died. At that time, the veil which hung in the temple and was very thick and had served to separate God and man because of sin, was torn into from top to bottom. Both of these events, the darkness and the veil had never occurred before. One of the thieves that hung on the cross beside Jesus, had believed on him and Jesus had responded by telling the man that he would be in Paradise with him that day. Of course this had really brought the crowd to a fever pitch. Now he was dead and the veil of the temple had been torn. Some believed on him that day and even some of the soldiers admitted he was a righteous man and one even confessed that he must be the Son of God. All of the angels in heaven, that were at his beck and call, had to stand idly by and allow this to take place while God turned his back on his own Son. Thirty three years away from his father and this was how it would end.
It is not a sad story however because unlike the sacrifices of WW II, this one has a happy ending. Three days after his death he was found alive by a lady named Mary who had been one of his followers and had come to the tomb early that morning. He gave her instructions on what to tell the men that had given up everything to follow him. Sometime that day, he ascended back to heaven, no doubt to a celebration like has never been seen since. He presented himself and the blood he shed to the Father, as the ultimate payment for sin. After descending back to the earth and later that day meeting with those men, he spent another forty days with them giving them instruction as to how to live. The amazing thing that also happened when he was found alive, was that many other folks that had died were also seen alive after he had risen. None of this could be explained away by the government or religious leaders of the day. At the end of the forty days, he went out to a mountain with many of his followers and there he ascended back into the clouds to his Father but promised to return to get those that believed in him.
Heaven had given it’s best, the Son of God, and he had given his life on a cross to secure forgiveness of sin for every one that was willing to believe and accept him. His invitation to believe and receive forgiveness is still open to all that will accept it. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). This has been done throughout history from the first battle death until the last but never has the sacrifice of one’s life for his friends meant so much as this one. Freedom definitely comes with a high price. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!
Andy Hollifield 6-6-17