Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran theologian who died at the hands of Hitler in 1945, understood discipleship. He understood how following Jesus can lead to being persecuted, even being put to death by hanging. Yet, knowing all this, he never stopped following and challenging others to follow. He said,” When Christ calls a person, Christ bids him come and die.” When we reflect upon the disciples of Jesus, those most intimately acquainted with our Lord, the overwhelming majority of the twelve died as martyrs because of their allegiance and faith to Christ. The day of Bonhoeffer’s hanging, a witness captured his actions and wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer… kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. 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.”
As we move through the season of Lent, this last week of Jesus’ life will stand out as being important. Today, Palm Sunday, we hear great cries of, “Hosanna.”!, by Holy Thursday the mood will shift to great sadness - as Jesus marches up Golgotha to face death.
Discipleship is costly. It calls for great sacrifice and commitment. The season of Lent challenges us to follow Jesus. We may be called to follow Him even in death. Amen.