Originally posted January 27, 2016
Romans 5:7-8 … For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan Monk who lived from 1894 to 1941. During World War II, the monastery Kolbe was in, acted as a publishing house and issued several anti-Nazi publications. On February 17, 1941, Kolbe was arrested with 4 others by the German Gestapo and placed in Pawiak prison, before being transferred to Auschwitz on May 28th of that same year.
Kolbe was beaten and received many lashings during his incarceration. In July 1941, after the escape of 3 prisoners, the deputy camp commander picked 10 men that he subjected to death, by starvation to discourage further prisoners from escaping. One of these 10 men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, upon his selection cried out, “My wife! My children!”, prompting Kolbe to volunteer to take his place.
Within 2 weeks all of the prisoners had died of dehydration and starvation. All, that is, but Kolbe. Kolbe was then given a lethal injection of carbolic acid, from which he died.
What kind of man was Franciszek Gajowniczek? Kolbe never asked, as far as we know, and he didn’t care. He gave himself up to save another man from punishment, despite the bad things Gajowniczek may have done.
That is exactly what Jesus has done for us. He took our place on the cross, even though we have sinned against Him. Even though we will sin against Him again in the future. He wiped our slate clean so that we would not be subject to punishment and to free us from the bondage of sin.
1 Peter 2:24 …”He Himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.”
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