One of the first tweets I read this morning, Easter Monday, was this:
@ericmetaxas 67 years ago today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at dawn by the Nazis at Flossenburg Concentration Camp. Let’s remember his life today.
It seems odd that the day after we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we have the choice to remember the execution of one of the most inspiring Christ-followers of the 20th Century. And I do mean ‘choice’.
One of the post-resurrection changes that occurs in those who follow Jesus is their willingness to suffer for the sake of the risen Christ. If you read the New Testament, you will find that Peter, John, Paul and others are constantly putting themselves in danger because they believe Jesus lives. It was said that they would count it an honor to suffer shame, to be arrested, beaten and jailed for the sake of His name. This was the life-response of those who encountered the risen Jesus who conquered death and the grave.
I imagine that those of us who went to Church on Easter heard a message about forgiveness, about being loved by God through Jesus, and the powers of darkness have been conquered through the Resurrection. Even I preached a message quoting Paul from 1 Corinthians 3, “all things are ours”. But I wonder if any of us heard a message about suffering for the sake of His name? Did anyone get inspired from an Easter message that invited listeners to embrace complications and complexities in response to what God has done for us in Jesus? Probably not…that kind of message seems counter to the Easter message at first glance.
And yet, I am personally wrestling with the choice to acknowledge that men like Bonhoeffer had the courage to stand against the evil of his day because of the Resurrection. His example and story sounds more like what Paul says in Philippians 3 about knowing Christ in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death so that we can know Him in His Resurrection. Bonhoeffer was not afraid of dying for the cause because death had been defeated. Can I say the same?
May the truth of the Risen Jesus lead me to “deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him”.