Easter is fast approaching. As Christians begin to turn their gaze towards the death and resurrection of the Savior, it seems appropriate that we should look for resources that will help us meditate on the cross and that will help prepare our hearts. To that end I’d like to suggest five books you may wish to read as Easter approaches. Each of these titles deals with the cross. Each will benefit you immensely as you prepare to remember the Lord. In each case I’ve provided my thoughts on the book and have listed a couple of representative endorsements.
The first three titles are short, meditative, inexpensive and easy-to-read for any Christian. All three are appropriate for devotional or study settings and are ideal for giving away to others. All three will guide your gaze to the cross and to the great work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The next two are longer and a little bit more difficult to read, but are certainly no less valuable.
The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy
There are few books I’ve recommended more highly and more often than this one. An absolute gem, this book contains a series of beautiful, stirring meditations on the cross. Here is how I concluded my review of the book. “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.”
“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.”
Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
From my review: “Mahaney delights in the cross. The reader will only be able to conclude that the cross is what motivates his life and his ministry. His enthusiasm, his desire, his love for the gospel message in infectious. Always focused on the truths of Scripture, Mahaney draws the reader back to the very center and focus of the Christian faith. The reader will be given much grounds for rejoicing and much grounds for deeper, prayerful reflection. The reader will be led near to the cross where he can experience the power of the Son of God. He will learn the need for the cross, the power of the cross and the wonderful benefits that have been extended to us because of the cross. He will learn why this cross stands at the center of our faith and why we must always hold it there.”
“Every Timothy needs a Paul. C.J. Mahaney is mine…and this book contains his life-message. Read it yourself, and let God realign your life.”
“With tenderness and power, C.J. illustrates the critical difference between snacking on the benefits of the cross and surveying the wonders of the cross. This is a must and magisterial read!”
The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul
From my review: “Is this the best book on the cross I’ve ever read? Perhaps. I don’t know that I would recommend this in place of The Cross He Bore but it certainly would make a wonderful complement to Leahy’s title. Less reflective and meditative, but with a greater emphasis on teaching theology, The Truth of the Cross will be a great addition to any library. This and The Cross He Bore could be read together every year and would undoubtedly bring great blessing with each reading. It is good to remember the cross and to come to a greater understanding of what it means and why it matters. The Truth of the Cross will center your thoughts upon the cross and upon the One Who went there willingly so that we could have life.”
“The Truth of the Cross is the best book on the cross I have read. It is a ‘must’ for every church library and a book that I will give away many times to friends. This is so because it is sober (i.e., it contains historically informed reflections on salient biblical texts), sensible (i.e., it is well-argued), simple (i.e., it holds the reader’s attention through grabbing illustrations and even a seventh-grader can its substance), and spiritual (i.e., it comes from a heart set ablaze by the Spirit).”
—Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, Professor RTS
“The cross stands at the very center of our Christian lives. Still, many Christians are confused about the heart of the gospel, for many deviant views are in the air. R.C. Sproul blows the fog away in this wonderfully clear, theologically profound, and pastorally rich work. Learn afresh or anew what God has accomplished in the cross, so that you will boast only in the cross of Jesus Christ.”
—Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, Professor SBTS
The remaining books are ones that are a little bit longer and perhaps a little bit less meditative in style. Yet they are profoundly important and deal well with some of the most wondrous theology we could ever study.
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
Though I have read much of this book, I have never read it from cover-to-cover. I will remedy that in the coming days and will read it as Easter approaches. Regarded as a classic and now in its twentieth-anniversary edition, this book is likely to be regarded as Stott’s finest work. It is foundational to many of the other titles I’ve listed and is probably the most-widely referenced book on the subject.
“This, more than any book he has written, is his masterpiece.”
-J. I. Packer
“There are not many ‘must read’ books—books that belong on every minister’s shelf and on the shelves of thoughtful laypersons who want a better grasp of what is central in Scripture—but this is one of them.”
Pierced for Our Transgressions by Jeffery, Ovey & Sach
Endorsed by a veritable who’s who of conservative evangelicals, this book is a strong and biblical defense of the historic Protestant doctrine of the penal substitution of Jesus Christ. It deserves to be widely read, widely studied and widely influential. Jeffery, Ovey and Sach have done the church a service with this volume. I’m grateful for it and commend it to you.
“This book deserves the widespread circulation achieved by … the contributions of Leon Morris, Jim Packer, and John Stott.”
-D. A. Carson
“It is difficult to imagine a more important book than Pierced for our Transgressions, or a more helpful one.”
-C. J. Mahaney
If you would like to purchase any of these titles, here are links to retailers I partner with: