by Matt Smith
Memorial Day. The official kick-off of summer brings with it for many a 3 day weekend, barbeques and for some a trip to the lake or ocean. Many of us as well will take at least a few minutes to remind ourselves of the purpose of the holiday: a day in which to honor the men and women who died while serving our country. Often if part of my Memorial Day is spent at home I will watch some war documentary on the History Channel to help further stress the importance of this holiday.
Certainly time spent with family and friends is a good thing and we certainly should pause to remember those who have given their lives for our country. Thank God for them! But our reading today causes us to pause and remember the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us. The book of Galatians is written to early believers who were starting to lose their understanding of the gospel based on a faith in Christ but were instead slipping back into legalism, thinking they had to do something to help or add to Christ’s work on the cross for their salvation. Their background in trying to obey the law was muddying their understanding of the gospel. Paul then gives some pointed teaching of the purpose of the law, that it serves as a “schoolmaster” (vs 24) to bring us to Christ. In other words, the law was given to show us God’s standard of right and wrong so that we could see how sinful we really are, which should then result in us coming to Christ for salvation. The word schoolmaster has the idea of someone who would come alongside the children and make sure they got safely to and from school. He was a guide, a helper.
In addition to Paul’s reminder of the purpose of the law, he also reminds these Galatians of the necessity of Christ’s work on the cross, stating in verse 13 that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”. So while the law served to condemn us and show us the wickedness of our hearts, Christ’s dying on the cross redeems us from the condemnation that breaking the law would bring. So, while we spend some time today in memorial of those who have died for our country, may we also spend some time of reflection thanking the One who also gave His life for us, saving us from the curse of the law. We have much to be thankful for today!