They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them (Exhortation – R. L. Binyon)
In the September of 1914, Robert Lawrence Binyon wrote the poem that contains the words that are now so familiar to most, and they are known as, the ‘exhortation‘.
These words were the first to come to him, as He wrote the poem which was subsequently published in full, in The Times on 21 September 1914.
This weekend, we remember the ultimate sacrifice by some, and the terrible loss of life, brothers, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters etc., that occurred in the 1st and 2nd world wars, and also all the other conflicts that have happened, and still continue to happen.
We have much to thank the men and women that selflessly gave their lives in the defence of their country and beliefs, and they came from all walks of life, military and non-military. Without their sacrifice, the world could have been a much different place.
Soldiers are not perfect as they go out to protect us from harm and keep us safe, to them it may be a job, or something that they feel they should do, but Jesus, was perfect;
‘He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth’ (1 Peter 2:22 ESV).
Thinking about this, as we cast our mind back 2000 years to Jesus, the Son of God, who selflessly gave his life for others; and not only that, but it was perfectly timed, yet he did it when people were rejecting him;
‘at just the right time… … Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).
In John’s Gospel, Jesus actually tells us, that the greatest sacrifice a person can give is their life;
‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13 ESV).
The Bible tells us, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NKJV).
Our lives have to be ‘right with God‘ i.e. we must have repented and sought God’s forgiveness for our past indiscretions in order to be able to face our Lord with a clear conscience.
Can we all say that this is how it is with ourselves?
Jesus went to the cross as a perfect sacrifice, never having sinned; never having a cross word, never a slander; he was perfect in every way;
‘God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement‘ (Romans 3:25 NIV).
Truly this was the greatest sacrifice ever made, and more importantly, and amazingly, it was made for you and me, sinners.
Christ came to save the sinners of the world; some people think they live quite good lives, and may ask, who are the sinners, ‘all have sinned’ (Romans 3:23 NKJV).
Are we thankful to Jesus for paying for our sins?
Jesus said to His disciples, ‘You [they and us] are my friends if you do what I command‘ (John 15:14 NIV).
How much are you willing to sacrifice for your family and friends?
How much are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus?
‘He paid a debt he did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay;
I needed someone to wash my sins away.’
(Ellis J Crumb)
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit.
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into mortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
Straight of limb, true of eye,
steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a wellspring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
For the Fallen (R L Binyon 1869-1943)
Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to die for us, we are grateful that through his sacrifice, we have direct access to you. We thank you for everything that he did, everything that he said, and everything that he taught. We know that we can look through the words inspired by him in the Bible to find words of comfort for people in need, teaching when we are in difficulty, and hope in any situation. Lord we love you and thank you for this.