The Grace of God
Dr. John K. Mathew
Auschwitz is a terrible place.
The worst of the Nazi death camps, where more than a million people lost their lives under the most appalling conditions. It was created in 1940 under Hitler’s orders, to deal with people considered undesirable - such as the Polish patriots and gypsies. When the Nazis launched the “final solution” a horrific attempt systematically to exterminate the Jewish people, it became their primary death camp. Even today, almost sixty years after its liberation, a palpable sense of evil hangs over the camp (Gary Inrig).
When he was fifteen, Elie Wiesel and his family were marched as prisoners through the gates of Auschwitz. They had been hauled there in cattle carts along with other Jews from Romania. He never again saw his mother and younger sister. By the time he was liberated, fifteen months later, his father also died. In 1995 Wiesel returned for the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of the camp. The night before the official ceremony, Weisel and others gathered at the crematorium for an unofficial ceremony where Wiesel articulated his feelings: “Although we know that God is merciful, please God do not have mercy on those who have created this place. God of forgiveness, do not forgive those murderers of Jewish children here.”
Golgotha is a terrible place too.
It was the place where the Son of God experienced extremities of human cruelty, and saw the satisfaction gained by sinners in killing an innocent Savior.
But the response of the victim is different. What we hear from the cross is the cry for forgiveness. Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.
This forgiveness is meant to be extended even to the brutal masters of the Nazi concentration camp.
That is God’s GRACE. The Webster’s dictionary defines grace as “unmerited love and favor of God toward mankind” Or “a divine influence acting in a person to make the person pure and morally strong.”
For Christians a more acceptable definition is “Unearned mercy and salvation extended to a people from God through the Savior, Jesus”.
This grace is free and it is for all. Though it is free it is not cheap. God the father had paid a price for it. Jesus our Savior laid his life for the same.
The only pre-requisite for us to receive this grace is faith. Faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ, as the Apostle Paul said, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2:8,9).