John Stott wrote a book some years ago entitled The Cross of Christ. In the chapter Looking Beneath the Surface, Stott says that the cross reveals three truths about ourselves and Jesus.[1] I want to reflect on these truths in this post, which is fitting for Good Friday.

Truth 1: Our Sins Must Be Extremely Horrible

It was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. Stott writes, “Ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, not 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 judgment and so put them away.”[2]

Stott says we shouldn’t be able to look at the cross and not feel shame. It was our sin that held him there, as the hymn states.[3] Our sin wasn’t something God could dismiss. His righteousness demanded that sin be dealt with. Jesus dealt with it in your place if you belong to Him.

Truth 2: God’s Love Must Be Wonderful Beyond Comprehension

Jesus taking our place reminds us of the love and care of our God. He didn’t just leave us where we were – dealing with the righteous consequences of our sin. “It is what we deserved. Be he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ.”[4] This love, Stott says, can change the stony heart. It’s more than love; it’s “grace,” which is love to the undeserving.[5]

Truth 3: Christ’s Salvation Must Be a Free Gift

Since Christ purchased our salvation in his own blood, we have nothing to pay. The only thing we can do is humble ourselves and receive this free gift. But this is where “our ingrained pride rebels.”[6] Stott presses further, “We resent the idea that we cannot earn – or even contribute to – our own salvation. So we stumble, as Paul put it, over the stumbling block of the cross.”[7]

What about you?

Are you stumbling over the cross, or have you embraced it by faith? Do you recognize your sin and the beauty of God’s love for you, or is it offensive? May God grant you the eyes of faith to see and acknowledge God’s love for you at the cross of Calvary.

[1] John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 83-84.

[2] Stott, Cross of Christ, 83.

[3] “How Deep the Father’s Love,” Stuart Townend, accessed April 6, 2023,

[4] Stott, Cross of Christ, 83.

[5] Stott, Cross of Christ, 83.

[6] Stott, Cross of Christ, 84.

[7] Stott, Cross of Christ, 84.