The Forgiving Love of the Crucified

Dietrich Bonhoefffer left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943. In April 1945, at the age of 39, he was martyred. I wonder if he has any regrets… I doubt it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a great realist. He was one of the few who quickly understood, even before Hitler came to power, that National Socialism was a brutal attempt to make history without God and to found it on the strength of man alone. Therefore in 1933, when Hitler came to power, he abandoned his academic career, which seemed to him to have lost its proper meaning.

– The Cost of Discipleship pp. 15-16

Bonhoeffer lived a life that made a difference. He did not waste his life. What would possess a man to take a stand against Hitler, national socialism, and a cruel humanistic regime? Not what, but rather, Who? The Holy Spirit of the Living God! The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

I have been thinking lately about all of the daily decisions that we have to make in life. As Christians, our greatest motivation to serve the Lord Jesus and to live for Him should be the love of God for us and His great love for the world. This is one reason that it is so important to continue to preach the gospel to ourselves.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. — 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:1-2

Why serve Him? Because He loves us!! Why live a Holy life? Look at His mercy towards us!! Why reach out to others in need? He loves them and died for them!!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave his life in service for Jesus. Bonhoeffer’s heart was for his persecuted brothers and sisters in Germany. When faced with the decision to return to that hostile country, it was the love of God that controlled him. When I read about Bonhoeffer’s life, fairly quickly I realize that my walk as a Christian is very shallow, and my love for Jesus, very weak.

The reasoning which brought Bonhoeffer to his decision to return to Germany to his brothers and sisters in Christ…

I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… Christians in Germany will face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive, or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying our civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose; but I cannot make this choice in security.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer never regretted this decision [to return to Germany], not even in prison, where he wrote in later years:

I am sure of God’s hand and guidance… You must never doubt that I am thankful and glad to go the way which I am being led. My past life is abundantly full of God’s mercy, and, above all sin, stands the forgiving love of the Crucified.

– The Cost of Discipleship pp. 17-18

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 at a court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense in Flossenbürg concentration camp. He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945.