[By Tara Jane]
Since I got ‘The Cross of Christ’ by John Stott for my 21st birthday, every few years I’ve pulled it off the shelf, declaring “This is the year I will actually read this!” which has then been followed by a sorrowful “It’s too hard and the words are too big.”
But 2017 is the year I will actually finish it. I’ve realised that 1) it’s not too hard, 2) it’s good to push myself and read things harder than The Hunger Games, and 3) I can always use a dictionary.
I thought I’d share some of the quotes I’ve loved as I’m reading. Here are ten from the first part of the book.
“Envy is the reverse side of a coin called vanity. Nobody is ever envious of others who is not first proud of himself.” – page 65
“Judas’ ultimate cynicism was to choose to betray his Master with a kiss, using this sign of friendship as a means to destroy it.” – page 67
“Judas was not exceptional. Jesus had said that it is impossible to serve God and money. Judas chose money. Many others have done the same.” – page 70
“If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Heb 6:6). We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old negro spiritual asks. And we must answer ‘Yes, we were there.’ Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified.” – page 72
“On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who crucified him. But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave himself up, to die for us. As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it, my sins sent him there’ and ‘he did it, his love took him there’.” – page 74
“The Lord’s Supper, which was instituted by Jesus, and which is the only regular commemorative act authorized by him, dramatizes neither his birth nor his life, neither his words nor his works, but only his death. Nothing could indicate more clearly the central significance which Jesus attached to his death. It was by his death that he wished above else to be remembered. There is then, it is safe to say, no Christianity without the cross. If the cross is not central to our religion, ours is not the religion of Jesus.” – page 81
“Although in theory ‘everything is possible’ to God, as Jesus himself affirmed in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36), yet this was not possible. God’s purpose of love was to save sinners, and to save them righteously; but this would be impossible without the sin-bearing death of the Saviour.” – page 91
“Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgement and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die.” – page 98
“For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed. It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Saviour we urgently need.” – page 98
“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 sin, guilt, judgement and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that.” – page 98
“Christ’s salvation must be a free gift. He ‘purchased’ it for us at the high price of his own life-blood. So what is there left to pay? Nothing! Since he claimed that all was now ‘finished’, there is nothing for us to contribute.” – page 99