For a Christian to be a steadfast follower of his Master Jesus Christ in Nazi Berlin during the years 1939 and 1940, when the frenetic arrogance of Hitler seemed to be carrying all before it, meant that he had to be in deadly earnest. Allegiance to Jesus of Nazareth, the Jew, the non-Aryan, who according to the sacrificing high priests of the herrenvolk religion had very properly been eliminated, was both unwelcome and unsafe in a community which acclaimed the voice of Hitler as the voice of a god and not of a man. But, as always, God had his remnant, his seven thousand, who had not bowed the knee to Baal. One such was Helmut Gollwitzer who, during those years was Martin Niemöller’s successor as pastor of the Confessional Church in Dahlem. Sunday by Sunday he nourished his flock on the exposition of St. Luke’s Gospel. The day came when the Gestapo removed him from his pulpit and expelled him from Berlin—but not before he had completed his exegesis of this Gospel. The text of the 15 sermons on the concluding section of the Third Gospel, covering the agony, arrest, trial, death, and resurrection of Christ, has now been made available in an English translation by Olive Wyon with the title The Dying and Living Lord (SCM Press, London, 1960). The reading of this small book is a moving and enriching experience.
As we come once again to the season of Gethsemane, Good Friday, and Easter, these sermons preached under the menacing shadow of the Swastika have a great deal to communicate to us who, for the present, are living under no such shadow. “Here is no question of the fear of death, in the usual human sense of the words,” declares the preacher of Christ’s agony in the Garden. “ ‘He ...1
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