Posted by: Craig | 7 February, 2008

The Centrality of the Cross…

I have just started reading John Stotts book The Cross of Christ and I shall go through it chapter by chapter utilising the questions in the study guide as a basis for these summary posts. Partly it is to inform those who haven’t read the book of its content but also to ingrain what I learn into my heart as the Cross so easily fades in my heart.

Well the first chapter is entitled : The centrality of the cross. Initially John shows how the symbol of the cross came about and how bizarre that seems from the outside perspective, initially signs like the fish were used due to the need for secrecy duirng persecution but the cross became the symbol of our faith and continued to be even when people were offended by christians wearing such a barbaric form of execution the symbol carried on.

John continues by talking about Jesus’ predictions of His death, not only did He have a knowledge of His mission but He predicted in saying that He must die knowing that there is no other way (Mark 8:31-32, 9:30-32, 10:32-34). The gospel of John does not have these predictions included but yet Jesus refers to the “hour” severel times trhoughout john. Jesus knew it was inevitable for it was the very reason he came to the world and it was written in the scriptures.

John shows that throughout Acts Paul and Peter preach with the Death of Jesus at its centre, in acts a full doctorine of atonement was not written about but the cross was preached and when they did preach to the Jews used the word “tree” as , according to the old testament scripture whoever is hung on a tree is cursed, and so it would seem they purpously used this language. It carries on that in the epistles all the writers witness to the centrality of the cross in their discussion of the faith, notably Pauls letter to the Romans.

John finished the chapter by discussing those offended by the cross, this quote sums it up nicely : “Nevertheless, what was shameful, even odius, to the critics of Christ, was in the eyes of his followers most glorious.” He particularly points out how Islam cannot accept the cross and how they find it ignomious for even a prophet to die such a way.

He closes the chapter by discussing the effect of “Percieving the cross to be the centre of history and theology, they naturally percieve it also to be the centre of all reality.” From this how in this mindset we can start to see the cross everywhere.

Lastly he asks why? That is answered in the next chapter.

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