A sacrifice made can clear the way for the future.

His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
Luke 3:17

Visiting the Battlefield of Gettysburg Is a Moving Experience

In August of 1998, Nancy and I took our son, Eddie, to Washington DC on a family vacation. It took a sacrifice or two to make the trip work, but it was well worth it!

We drove from Western Michigan all the way, making stops in Pittsburgh and York, Pennsylvania.

We stayed in York the night before we made our scheduled visit to Gettysburg National Military Park and Cemetery.

The Civil War is taught to every student who grows up in Illinois, and is still one of my favorite times of history to study and learn about.

Little did I know, however, the connections I would later have with Gettysburg!

I grew up in Illinois and have made several visits to Abraham Lincoln’s home, tomb, and Presidential Museum.

By David Bachrach [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I learned the Gettysburg Address by heart – as most students did in the 1970’s and earlier. But standing on the ground, in the place, where Lincoln first spoke those words was an incredibly moving experience.

President Lincoln delivered what would become known as the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.

Just over a month earlier, St. Matthew Lutheran Church was established in what today is known as Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. This is the congregation I’ve been serving in since 2011.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a significant turning point in the American Civil War. That conflict “threshed” the United States as it settled the issue of slavery in our country.

It is sad that it takes conflict to resolved national sins, sometimes. But this shouldn’t surprise us.

Sometimes It Takes Violence to Overcome Sin

Sin is violent. Sin is deadly. To overcome sin, violence is sometimes needed.

Humanity’s sin was overcome by the violent death of the Son of God.  My sin and your sin were overcome by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

John the Baptist foresees what Jesus would do and put it into words, using descriptive language like “winnowing fork” and “clear his threshing floor.

The reference to the “threshing floor” is one that John’s hearers would instantly recognize.

The “threshing floor” is the location of Solomon’s Temple. Before Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, the site was the “threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (see 2 Samuel 24).

Jesus would come to reclaim that sight – spiritually – by dying nearby. At the sight of the threshing floor, sacrifices were made for the sins of God’s people. Jesus’ sacrifice – while not on the threshing floor – was once and for all. His death removed the need for further sacrifice.

A Sacrifice Made Can Clear the Way for the Future

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross cleared “his threshing floor” and opened the way for God’s people – those who have faith in Jesus as Savior – to be gathered.

Jesus gave up his life so that you and I could live. Truly live the life we were created to live.

The Gettysburg National Cemetery echoes that sacrifice. Buried there are over 3500 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice at Gettysburg. They bled and died to clear the way for the future of the United States.

We would do well to remember their sacrifice. Let us teach it to our children. And we should model a like-minded sacrifice to the world.

Because we who believe in Jesus Christ are to also sacrifice! Let us surrender our lives to Christ in order to tell others the Good News that their lives can be restored.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross means the way has been cleared for us to be gathered into God’s family.


Heavenly Father, thank you for the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ. His death means the forgiveness of my sins. Gather me into your family so that I can live with you forever in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2018 True Men Ministries

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