The placard outside of Flossenburg Concentration Camp where Bonhoeffer was hanged at dawn on April 9, 1945 is a tribute to all who resist tyranny.
“In resistance against dictatorship and terror they gave their lives for freedom, justice and humanity.”
The names on the list are those of co-conspirators, Admiral William Canaris, Colonel Ludwig Gehre, General Major Hans Oster, and others. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s name is at the top.
On Bonhoeffer’s death the Flossenburg doctor wrote; “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
Mr. Metaxas quotes from a sermon by Bonhoeffer:
“No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God. No one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence…Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.”
If Christ transforms the thought, the reality of death through faith, faith imputed on our behalf, then we too, as Bonhoeffer can and should triumph over the fear of death and stand firm for the overarching truth of trusting Jesus. The triumph of Christ over death, hell and the grave is put forth in the magnificent verbiage of Hebrews 2, one verse seems to sum it up gloriously, Hebrews 2:15 “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Once a person gets ahold on the truth about Christ’s victory and accepts it as their own, Hitler or the Devil himself has lost real power to rule that person by the fear of death. Hebrews chapter 11, often referred to as The Roll Call of Faith makes it plain that true living is living above fear of the things Christ has overcome for our benefit.
When death is used as the fear as it is in Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” It is done with the plan to comfort us in all lessor fears, to encourage through valley of any apparent loss.
Bonhoeffer, from the evidence presented over the years was at peace with Christ in his life, even under the terror inducing circumstances of German Concentration Camps, and according to the doctor who witnessed his execution was in a deep and peaceful fellowship with Jesus at the hour of his death. John Wesley was asked, “What kind of people are your Methodists?” Wesley answered, “They die well.” Pretty good in my opinion.
Around the world persecution against Christians seems to be the in sport of the age. Jesus warned us that as the salt of the earth if we lose of savor, we are useless and would be the equivalent of a mixture to make roads a little tougher and we would in effect be trodden underfoot. The way the world operates is to ignore the lukewarm adherents to faith and attempt to stomp the life out of genuine believers. This program has been in different places at different times and history records that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
Sixty nine years ago at dawn this morning Dietrich Bonhoeffer walked victoriously to the hangman’s noose with a calm that has been described as “other worldly.” I think the term is appropriate to the max.
The to the death testimony of Dietrich Bonhoeffer encourages me to practice Ephesians 6:13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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