The Ultimate Sacrifice

Lou Lotz

READ : John 10:17-18

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (v. 18)

Elizabeth Pilenko was imprisoned at Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp. In the spring of 1945, the war almost at an end, a new batch of female prisoners arrived at Ravensbruck. As they were being herded into the gas chamber, one prisoner, a young pregnant woman, became hysterical. She fell to her knees, begging that her life, and the life of her unborn child, be spared.

As the guards dragged the woman toward the steel doors of the gas chamber, Elizabeth Pilenko intervened. She volunteered to take the girl’s place in line, and thus the daily quota would be maintained. What did it matter to the guards which of them died, so long as the quota was met? The pregnant girl was spared; Elizabeth Pilenko was gassed. It was Good Friday. Ravensbruck was liberated on Easter Sunday.

Sacrifice is an initiative, not an acceptance. Sacrifice is not heroically accepting the inevitable, however noble that may be. Sacrifice is accepting what you don’t have to accept. It is doing what you don’t have to do, giving what you don’t have to give.

Jesus’ life was not taken; it was given. “No one takes it from me,” said Jesus, “but I lay it down of my own accord.” Jesus took our place in line. What a sacrifice.


Thank you, Lord.