I read a lot of books last year. I didn’t bother to count them but I know it was well over 100. It is inevitable that, having read that quantity of books, some of them made little impact on me. Some of them were read and slowly (or even quickly) drifted out of my mind. But there are a few that have stayed with me. There are a few that stand out above the rest.
One of the best of the best I read last year was The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy. Here is the deliberately short review I posted of Professor Leahy’s book:
Sometimes I read a book that has come with such numerous and lofty recommendations that really it can only be disappointing. Having heard so much about how the book will change my life and cause my faith to grow in leaps and bounds, I have often found the reality to be disappointing. Conversely, sometimes a book comes unhyped and unheralded and takes my heart and mind by storm. Such is the case with The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy.
Truthfully, I do not remember where I first heard of this book. I was surprised one day to see it turn up in the mail and I soon realized that at one point I had added it to my Amazon wishlist. I knew nothing about it other than what the cover told me: “Meditations on the sufferings of the Redeemer.” Edward Donnelly writes in the foreward that this book has three virtues: it provides solid instruction; gives full play to a disciplined and sanctified imagination; and it recalls the neglected art of meditation. He says further that “in rereading these chapters, I found myself more than once compelled by emotion to stop – and then to worship. I cannot help feeling that this is exactly how they were written and that the author’s chief desire is that each of us who reads should be brought to gaze in fresh understanding and gratitude upon ‘the Son of God,’ who loved me and give himself for me.” As with Donnelly, I was often compelled to stop and worship, to stop and meditate, or to stop and dry my eyes, thanking Christ for His immeasurable sacrifice.
The book is comprised of thirteen chapters, each of which is a short meditation or reflection on a different aspect of Christ’s sacrifice, from the close of the Last Supper to the blotting of the sun from the sky while He hung on the cross. It truly strikes to the very heart of the Gospel.
But I hesitate to say more. Perhaps part of the beauty and significance of this book, was that it came unannounced. There was no lofty position for it to attain to. And perhaps it is best that way. And so I will leave it with merely my wholehearted recommendation and the knowledge that I will return to it often. This short book is an invaluable treasure and I am certain that the reflections it contains will stay with me and come to heart and mind whenever I meditate upon the cross of Christ.
The Cross He Bore is a powerful and beautiful book. I learned this morning that Professor Leahy died just a few weeks ago. He died only two hours after submitting the manuscript for his most recent book. An obituary in Lisburn Today says, “Rev. Leahy, who was 83, was accompanied on the walk from his home to the Post Office on Wednesday January 4 by his devoted wife Margaret. After passing the text of ‘The Hand of God’ over the counter at the start of its journey to publishers ‘Banner of Truth’ she suggested he purchase a new notebook to start work on his next manuscript.” Leahy’s response was simple and contained more truth than he knew. “Margaret, I think I’ve said all I want to say.” He entered his eternal rest only two hours later and finally came face-to-face with the Savior of whom he made so much during his lifetime.
“His minister, Rev Prof Robert McCollum paid tribute to Rev. Leahy describing him as ‘a dedicated servant and faithful ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. He fought the good fight, he finished the race and he kept the faith,’ concluded Rev. McCollum.”
The Cross He Bore is also recommended by Mark Loughridge and Jacob Hantla. Jacob writes, “I recommend that you read this book in a quiet place with little destraction with your Bible by your side. Read it one chapter at a time and then sit and re-read, and pray. Let the Spirit take you back to the foot of the cross where you gaze up at your only hope, the King of the universe hanging in misery, damnation, and ultimately victory. Look at the cross he bore and realize that with such a high price to secure our salvation, anything that we hope to add or to repay will only be an insult to His gift, diminishing its value and His glory. Let the Spirit take you to the foot of the cross where you realize who we are, we are all beggars.”