This is my 5th time reading through this book, which I’ve done faithfully for the last 5 years since I became a Christian. I reviewed it in 2014 here and last year here. Each year I read it, I glean something new and refreshing. The first chapter is entitled “The Centrality of the Cross” and I think it is such an important message to constantly return to the purpose and message of the cross year after year which is why I will continue to read the Cross of Christ. It really has become my most favorite book.
I think this year was particularly intriguing in my yearly run through because I did something I haven’t done in earlier years: I took notes. In my note taking, I like to highlight particularly important passages that I cross reference with a key that is in front of the book. In my note taking, I recorded almost 80 entries of important or remember-worthy details that made it into my key. Sometimes I feel as if the entire book could be highlighted because of the gravity and weightiness of the message.
The book is broken down into 4 parts: Approaching the Cross, The Heart of the Cross, The Achievement of the Cross, and Living Under the Cross. I mentioned last year that this last section really gripped me because when we understand the cross, we cannot help but be moved to live it out in our lives. This year, the section “The Heart of the Cross” again became my most favorite section. Stott deals with the problem of forgiveness, satisfaction for sin, and the self-substitution of God in this section. Among my most favorite parts is the two part dichotomy of the sacrifice of Jesus by Anselm of Canterbury;
“There is no-one… who can make this satisfaction except God himself… But no one ought to make it except man; otherwise man does not make satisfaction… it is necessary that one who is God-man should make it… It is needful that the very same Person who is to make this satisfaction be perfect God and perfect man, since no one can do it except one who is truly God, and no one ought to do it except one who is truly man.”
The self satisfaction of God is still a truth about the cross that fascinates me today and, in my opinion, is an idea that plumbs the depth of the cross.
I love this book. I think you should read it. If you want to be challenged to a greater understanding of the cross, then this is the book for you. If you have questions about the cross, then you should read this book. Just do yourself a favor and read it.