Maximilian Kolbe

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 6
A remarkable thing happened during the last days of July, 1941, at the dreaded Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. A prisoner escaped from Block 14! The next day Deputy Commander Fritsch arrived in crisply pressed uniform and shining jack boots. He ordered all the prisoners to line up in the courtyard, and barked out the order that 10 prisoners would be executed in retaliation.
He then chose ten, one by one. One of the ten, Francis Gajowniczec, a father with a little family, broke down and sobbed. There was a rustle from the line of prisoners, and one of them, Maximilian Kolbe, made his way to the front.
"Herr Commandant, I wish to make a request, please."
"What do you want?" growled the brutal commander.
Maximilian answered, "I want to die in place of this prisoner." He pointed to the sobbing Francis. "I have no wife and no children; besides, I am old and not good for anything."
The stunned man waited for the Commandant to say that both men would die, but after a moment Fritsch snapped, "Request granted."
Maximilian was led away with the other nine to execution; Francis was spared.
Many years rolled by, and the small town where Maximilian was born decided to have a special day to honor him for his sacrifice. After a long search, the town fathers found that Francis was still living. They arranged that he would come by airplane to speak to the crowd at the ceremony.
Francis, an old man with shuffling gait by now, made his way to the microphone when his time came. He told again the wonderful story of how Maximilian had taken his place and how his life had been spared through the death of his friend. At the end of his talk Francis said with emotion, "I never tire of telling the story of Maximilian Kolbe, the man who died for me!"
Maximilian died for his friend, and the Bible tells us that "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." But there is One who has died for us when we were not His friends, when we were far from God, when we hated Him. Only the Lord Jesus Christ would do that! "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:88But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).
Francis, saved through the death of his friend, said, "I never tire of telling the story of... the man who died for me!" How about you? Have you ever been grateful to the Lord Jesus for dying to save your soul? Have you ever received life—eternal life—through His sacrifice for you? Have you ever said, "He died for me?" Can you say it?
No man of greater love can boast,
Than for his friend to die;
Thou for Thine enemies wast slain—
What love with Thine can vie?