Improve your sermon prep with our brand new study tools! Learn all about them here.
Text Illustrations
The name AUSCHWITZ brings terror and grief to the hearts of many people. It is the sight of an infamous NAZI DEATH CAMP where 4 million Jews died during World War II. A half-ton of hair is still PRESERVED. The SHOWERS that once sprayed POISON GAS still stand.



Maximillian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who had been helping the Jews ESCAPE the NAZIS, was discovered and arrested, and then sent to AUSCHWITZ. While there he still tried to CARE for the PRISONERS. He BANDAGED their WOUNDS. He SHARED his FOOD. He gave up his BUNK. He PRAYED for his CAPTORS. He was soon nicknamed the “SAINT of AUSCHWITZ.”



In July, 1941, there was an ESCAPE. The CAMP RULE stated that upon every successful ESCAPE, 10 persons would DIE. All the PRISONERS would be gathered in the COURTYARD, and an SS OFFICER would be flipping through the pages RANDOMLY calling NAMES of the PRISONERS who would be IMMEDIATELY taken to a CELL where they would receive no FOOD and WATER until they DIED.



One by one NAMES were called. The tenth person called was a man named FRACISZEK GAJOWNICZEK. He was a SERGEANT in the Polish Army who had been CAPTURED. When his name was called he CRIED, “My WIFE and CHILDREN.” The officers turn as they hear MOVEMENT among the PRISONERS. The GUARDS raise their RIFLES. The DOGS tense, anticipating a command to ATTACK. A PRISONER has left his RANK and is PUSHING his way to the FRONT.


It is KOLBE. One of the GUARDS shout, “Stop or be SHOT!” Kolbe said that he wanted to talk to the COMMANDER. For some reason, they left him. He said to the commander, “Let me DIE in the place of this man. I have no FAMILY. Besides, I am OLD and cannot do much WORK. He’s in much better CONDITION, and more USEFUL to you.” For a reason that we’ll never know, the SS OFFICER let Kolbe take the place of this man.


This PRIEST was marched off with nine other men to a COLD BASEMENT CELL where they were STRIPPED of their CLOTHES and kept without FOOD and WATER until they DIED. On August 14, 1941, the Saint of AUSCHWITZ and another were still wretchedly and miserably ALIVE, until a CAMP DOCTOR injected PHENOL into each one’s HEART and put them out of their MISERY.


Gajowniczek SURVIVED. He was LIBERATED by the ALLIES and was REUNITED with his WIFE and CHILDREN. In his backyard in Warsaw, Poland is a PLAQUE that he carved with his own hands as a MEMORIAL to Maximillian Kolbe. Until his death a few years agp he returned to AUSCHWITZ August 14th of every year and revisited the sight, and he WEPT and he PRAYED and THANKED God that someone CARED enough for him to DIE in his PLACE!


That’s what Jesus did for YOU and ME. You see, I am a SINNER held PRISONER by Satan, and the “WAGES of SIN is DEATH.” My name has been CALLED, and so has yours. We are all SINNERS deserving to DIE. Jesus leaves heaven and comes to this EARTH as a MAN living under the LAW, keeping its RULES and REGULATIONS perfectly. He lives a SINLESS life. He comes under no PENALTY of DEATH. He OWES the LAW nothing.


But Jesus breaks RANKS, raises His HAND and says, “Father, pick me! Let me DIE in Fred’s PLACE (in _____ place . . . in ______ place . . . in ______ place . . . in______ place).” And friend, if you were the only person on this EARTH who committed sin; if everyone around you lived a PERFECT LIFE except you, Jesus would still RAISE His HAND and say, “Let me take his PLACE!” “Let me DIE for her!”