If we are not careful during the Christmas season, we may lose sight of Jesus in all of the hustle and bustle. Some may appreciate the fact the Jesus came but leave him lying in the manger. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, let us not forget why He came and let us realize that He came. He became the sacrifice needed to reconcile us to God. Speaking of sacrifice, please allow me to tell you the account of a man by the name of Janusz Korczak. In the early 1900s, Dr. Korczak began a career as a pediatrician; a child psychologist and a skilled educator. He wrote children’s books such as King Matthew the First and Kaytek the Wizard. His particular gift was writing the stories as if they were being read through the eyes of a child.
While Dr. Korczak was building his practice and flourishing in Warsaw, Poland, there was a menace growing in Germany; a demagogue by the name of Adolf Hitler. As Hitler’s power grew, he became aggressive against other nations and started moving into and conquering those nations around Germany. After a successful career, Dr. Korczak eventually slowed down his practice and opened a home for children that had no place to go. At this home, they cared for vulnerable Polish children from all backgrounds – Jewish, Catholic, and anyone who needed a home. Dr. Korczak became to most of them the only Father they would ever know. However, after Nazi Germany began to occupy Warsaw, they removed the non-Jewish children from Dr. Korczak’s care and moved his orphans into the Jewish ghetto. Conditions rapidly deteriorated, supplies were sparse, water was limited, and food for the children was not provided.
Soon after coming to power, Hitler began his personal attack on the Jewish people: what we now know as the Holocaust. The term "Holocaust" comes from the Greek holos or “whole” and kaustos or “burnt.” To the Hebrews, it is known as HaShoah, which simply means the “catastrophe.” Dr. Korczak knew that his little orphanage would not escape the reach of Hitler and on August 6, 1942, word came to the orphanage in the ghetto of Warsaw that they were going to be relocated to a death camp located in the village of Treblinka, northeast of Warsaw. Dr. Korczak gathered his workers together and told them to dress the children in their very best clothes and make sure they had their favorite toy. He then gathered the children together and told them they were going for a walk in the countryside. To those children, it was a treat to get out of the ghetto and escape the hell that they were living in. Dr. Korczak carried one child while holding the hand of another and led 192 children through town and to the train. Arriving at Treblinka, one of the guards recognized him and told him how much his books meant to him as he was growing up and offered to make an exception for Dr. Korczak; pull him out of line. Janusz Korczak refused to abandon the children under his care. As the account is told, he led his children into the gas chamber at Treblinka and was found still holding the one child in his arm and holding the hand of the other.
Jesus also went willingly to his death. The baby in a manger we see this time of year grew up into a man and made his way to die on Calvary as a propitiation or substitute for our sins. Jesus came to die for nothing that he had done. He was hated and despised for who he was. He was “Immanuel” or “God with us.” As he went to the cross, his love for you and I held him there as he died to bear our sins. He went into a borrowed tomb and three days later, arose and today sits in Heaven waiting on you. Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sin? Have you accepted Jesus as your own? He died so that you may know him. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.