The Only Book in Seminary that Made Me Cry
There was a lot of reading required in seminary. There was so much that it was hard to keep up. Being a slow reader, I had to learn to read faster and quite frankly at times I had to skim. There was one book in particular that caused me to slow down and it had a profound impact on me. In fact, it brought me to tears as I read it. Given that we are in between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, I thought I might share some quotes from John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. If you haven’t read this book, I hope these quotes may encourage you to do so.
All we are told is “they crucified him.” That is, the soldiers carried out their gruesome task. There is no evidence that they enjoyed it, no suggestion that they were cruel or sadistic. They were just obeying orders. It was their job. They did what they had to do. And all the while, Luke tells us, Jesus kept praying out loud, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34) (pg. 53).
Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, “only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross,” wrote Canon Peter Green, “May claim his share in its grace.” (pg. 63)
Although He does not always treat us “according to works,” however, he always does “according to his name,” that is, in a manner consistent with his revealed nature (pg. 127).
It is because God is God and not man, let alone fallen man. We have to deny or disown everything within us that is false to our true humanity. But there is nothing in God that is incompatible with his true deity and therefore nothing to deny. It is in order to be our true selves that we have to deny ourselves; it is because God is never other than his true self that he cannot and will not deny himself. (pg. 128)
But we cannot escape the embarrassment of standing stark naked before God. It is no use for us to try to cover up like Adam and Eve in the garden. Our attempts at self-justification are as ineffectual as their fig leaves. We have to acknowledge our nakedness, see the divine substitute wearing our filthy rags instead of us, and allow him to clothe us with his own righteousness. (pg. 162).
What provokes our anger (injured vanity) never provokes his; what provokes his anger (evil) seldom provokes ours. (pg. 171).
Remembering that Jesus Christ has bought us with his blood and that in consequence we belong to him should motivate us as individual Christians to holiness, just as it motivates presbyters to faithful ministry and the heavenly host to worship. (pg. 178-179).
Jesus spoke of suffering as being both “for God’s glory,” that God’s Son might be glorified through it, and “so that the work of God might be displayed” (Jn 11:4 and Jn 9:3). This seems to mean that in some way (still to be explored) God is at work revealing his glory in and through suffering, as he did (though differently) through Christ’s. (pg. 306).
The place of suffering in serve and of passion in mission is hardly ever taught today. But the greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. (pg. 313).
The God who allows us to suffer, once suffered himself in Christ, and continues to suffer with us and for us today. (pg. 321).
The Cross of Christ is a Christian classic. If you haven’t read it, let me encourage you to do so. There are so many more quotes I could’ve shared and just writing these out make me want to pick it up and read it again.
You can pick up your copy of The Cross of Christ on Amazon.