Big Idea

What do you say when someone gives his life for yours?

Scene Setup

On a bridge at the end of the battle, Captain Miller sits dying. He has completed his mission, however, and has seen to it that Private Ryan can go home. Ryan looks at Miller and explains that tank busters have come and that the battle has been won.


Death, Life, Perseverance, Worthiness, Sacrifice


Captain Miller, with his dying words, tells Private Ryan, "Earn this. Earn it." He means for James to realize that many men died to set him free, so he has an obligation to do something meaningful with his life. As Ryan looks over the captain, in a voiceover we hear the words of the army chief-of-staff in a letter to Mrs. Ryan consoling her on the death of her three sons, telling her of her one surviving son's valor and his soon return home. He quotes the prayer of Abraham Lincoln, that God would lessen her grief and remember her boys with honor, and that the country is grateful for her sacrifice. The scene changes to the present. James Ryan is now an old man standing in Arlington Cemetery at the graveside of Captain Miller, where he confesses that he has thought every day of the charge that Captain Miller laid upon him on that bridge. "I've tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me." His wife approaches, and he asks her to tell him that he's lived a good life, "Tell me that I'm a good man." She replies, "you are." Then, as if having discharged his duty, he salutes Captain Miller's grave.


Ryan feels anguish over whether he had lived a life worthy of so much sacrifice. Each of us has to ask ourselves the same question. Jesus gave everything for us. He shed His blood that we might be forgiven our sins and some day live eternally with Him. We should live our lives in such a way that we do not have to come to the end and feel that anguish of having wasted a life that Jesus thought was so valuable that He gave His own to save it.


Where To Find


Matthew 20:25-28

Philippians 1:27-29

1 Timothy 2:1-8

Hebrews 2:1-3

Ephesians 4:1-2

Video Times

Start: 02:36:00

End: 02:42:06


Death, Life, Running The Race, Perseverance, Sacrifice, Sanctification, Good Life, Worthy

Illustration Sermon General Warning

Captain Miller dies, and there is some blood on his jacket. You also need to be sensitive about how you introduce the scene as it may stir up potent memories for veterans in the congregation.

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