Guest post by Rob Tims
Of all the books I could recommend to you about Good Friday and Jesus’ crucifixion, John Stott’s The Cross of Christ tops my list. It is not an easy or short read. In fact, if you’re not accustomed to theological reading, it’s probably not the best place to start. In this work, Stott illuminates the various theological facets of the cross, providing a clear and complete view of what Jesus Christ accomplished through his death. He also explained the ramifications of the cross for topics including how Christians should pursue discipleship, live within the Church community, relate to society, and understand suffering in the world.
But enough about the book. Here are some of my favorite quotations. I hope they inspire and encourage you this Good Friday.
“From Jesus’ youth, indeed even from his birth, the cross cast its shadow ahead of him. His death was central to his mission. Moreover, the church has always recognized this.”
“The fact that a cross became the Christian symbol, and that Christians stubbornly refused, in spite of the ridicule, to discard it in favor of something less offensive, can have only on explanation. It means that the centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself. It was out of loyalty to him that his followers clung so doggedly to this sign.”
“God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sins, guilt, judgement and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that.”
“The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.”
“Moved by the perfection of his holy love, God in Christ substituted himself for us sinners. That is the heart of the Cross of Christ.”
“It would be hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the changes that have taken place as a result of the cross, both in God and in us, especially God’s dealings with us and in our relations with him. Truly, when Christ died and was raised from death, a new day dawned, a new age began.”
“If the cross is to mark our Christian life in the home and the church, this should be even more so in the world. The church tends to become very preoccupied with its own affairs, obsessed with petty, parochial trivia, while the needy world outside is waiting. So the Son sends us out into the world, as the Father had sent him into the world.”
“The cross calls us to a much more radical and costly kind of evangelism than most churches have begun to consider, let alone experience. The cross calls us to social action too, because it summons us to the imitation of Christ…”
“On the cross, by both demanding and bearing the penalty of sin and so simultaneously punishing and overcoming evil, God displayed and demonstrated his holy love; holy love of the cross should characterize our response to evil-doers today.”
“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.