Early in my Christian walk, I was recommended this book. I don’t remember the circumstances necessarily, just that I read it and my life was refreshed with the power of the cross of Christ. I made a commitment to read it once a year and this is nearly my fourth year in a row reading this book (read my book review from 2014 here).
John Stott has been a controversial figure in evangelicalism, but I think he gets this book right. He speaks of the centrality of the cross in the first section; how the cross has dominated Christianity for over 2000 years. Next he delves into the theology of the Cross was comprises most of the book. Lastly, he looks at the Christian response to the cross.
I think this year in particular I was most impacted by the last section. When you begin to realize the weight of the cross, nothing that is so controversial or petty in your life seems important anymore. The cross humbles us in a way that nothing else can. When the God of the universe forsakes His glorious position in heaven for a human form, not only to live but eventually to die a torturous death, your perspective on your enemies, your commitment to the Gospel, your whole life must radically be altered. This is what happens when the scales fall from your eyes and you recognize the sinner that you are; we are called to sanctification, holiness, and godliness in recognition of the cross of Christ.
I love the theological perspective of this book as well as the reason that Stott puts into it. Each point is systematically reviewed under the lens of reason and the Bible. Stott expertly moves from each point logically and with great force that will really change your perspective if you had not been inclined to look at the cross as the substitutionary atonement. In particular, I am always fascinated at the section of his book that shows the relationship between Old Testament sacrifices and Jesus’ death on the cross. Stott exposits the way the Israelites used to perform sacrificial ceremonies and the different sacrifices for different reasons. He then connects this to the cross of Jesus and shows how each one was fulfilled at that point in time.
Needless to say, I think every Evangelical Christian should read this book. I will continue to do so next year as well!