The Ultimate Sacrifice
For the last 50 years of Fran Gajowniczek’s life, August 14th was a shrine, a day of remembering and a pilgrimage to a place where one life was given for another. For Maximillian Kolbe, August 14th will forever be ordained as a day of ultimate liberation and freedom from a place called “the death bunker” to the throne of grace and the outstretched arms of the Savior.
The Nazi prison camp at Auschwitz was the greatly feared extermination facility for hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens and their Polish sympathizers who hid them and protected them from Hitler’s heartless killing squads. Kolbe had served as a Franciscan monk for 31 years when he organized a shelter for 2,000 Jewish refugees who had fled Germany in a wave of genocide. When the shelter was discovered, Kolbe was sentenced to the Nazi prison camp where he would be known as “a sublime example of the love of God and one’s neighbor.” The daily rations were sparse and the stench of starvation filled the air. The malnourished and famished Kolbe would often give his daily bread to those with the greatest need.
To intimidate those who would contemplate an escape, the Nazi guards threatened that for everyone who attempted an escape ten cell mates would be thrown into the death bunker until complete starvation claimed their lives.
On August 1, 1941, a prisoner in Block 12 was missing and assumed to have escaped. Block 12 stood in horror as commander Karl Fritzsch screamed, “The fugitive has not been found, you will all pay for this. Ten of you will be locked into the starvation bunker without food or water until you die.” One by one, the names were randomly called. When the name of Fran Gajowniczek was announced, he cried in anguish, “My poor wife! My poor children! What will they do?” Kolbe heroically stepped forward and asked if he could take the man’s place in the bunker. “I am a priest. He has a wife and children. Let me take his place.”
To Gajowniczek’s astonishment, the guard granted Kolbe’s heroic request. For 14 days, Kolbe sang hymns and quoted Scripture to comfort the other men who starved with him. Their stomachs shriveled to nothing and their minds were set on fire. One by one, they died until the final day that Kolbe and three others were given lethal injections to clear the bunk for others.
After Allied forces overthrew the Nazi regime, the grateful Gajowniczek was reunited with his wife, and he spent his last 50 years telling the story of the sacrificial love of the humble Franciscan monk who offered his life as a ransom; an act of kindness that could never be repaid.
“No greater love has any man than to lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus. (John 15:13).
Understanding God’s Sacrifice
Mark these Key Words: Lamb blood Jesus
Old Testament Viewpoint
Exodus 12:1, 5, 7, 13, 26, & 27; Exodus 12:2-7,12-13; Isaiah 53:3-5, 7-8, 11
Exodus 12:1, 5, 7, 13, 26 & 27 NOW the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt. 5 “Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
7“Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 13 “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes’.” And the people bowed low and worshiped.
Exodus 12:2-7 This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. ”Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.”
Exodus 12: 12-13 “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments– I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
Isaiah 53:3-5, 7-8, 11
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the
stroke was due?
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
New Testament Viewpoint
John 3:16; Hebrews 10:10,12, 19-22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:8; John 15:13
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Hebrews 10:10, 12, 19-22 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
1 Peter 1:18-19 Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
What is God saying?
1) What is the relationship between Jesus of the New Testament and the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament?
2) Why was sacrifice necessary to restore our relationship with God?
3) How does Jesus’ sacrifice change your position before God?
4) Why did God use His most prized relationship as a sacrifice for your sins?
5) How will understanding Jesus’ sacrifice for you change the way you love those closest to you?
What else of significance do you see God saying in this passage?
How does this passage relate to me today? What changes does it bring to my life?
Who is your greatest hero and what is it about that person you most admire?
Memory Verse: Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
A Adoration: Father, today I praise You for…
C Confession: Father, please forgive me for…
T Thanksgiving: Father, today I’m thankful for…
S Supplication: Father, the people & things that I wish to pray for today are…