No Ordinary Cross

Jesus-On-the-CrossA BOOK REVIEW Have you ever heard a story so many times that you cringe when someone starts to share the same news all over again? I heard messages and stories about God’s will, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, and the cross so often (I grew up in a Christian home) that even as an adult, I still try to dodge hearing them all over again. I know that may sound horrible, but it’s the honest truth. I think to myself: “Please. No! Not again.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the story of the cross but the shared narratives often and almost always come packaged in the same monotonous way. This is why I was not eager to read and review the new book Last Words of Jesus; however, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Stu Epperson’s journey would be no ordinary or boring adventure. Every chapter led me to think about the cross and Savior in new and challenging ways.

The author walks us through seven lessons left through the last words of Jesus: lessons about prayer, pardon, paternity, pain, passion, perfection, and peace. Some of my favorite quotes form the book include:

“The second thief’s simple request as a response of faith brushes aside all our modern ‘sinner’s prayer’ rules.”

“In an instant, a common, worthless, condemned thief becomes a royal son of the Most high and is given a promise of eternal paradise.”

“Amid his pain and suffering, Jesus cares for Mary’s pain and suffering. Care for the widow and orphan is directed from Christ Himself at his darkest moment.”

My favorite chapter talks about Jesus asking “Why?” The author reminds us that “it is at the foot of the Cross that all why questions find their answer.” He shares Martin Luther’s agonizing proclamation: “God forsaken by God, how can this be?” Jesus who made the world was being unmade. But, don’t worry. This chapter and several other pages in the book don’t leave you hanging, they contain powerful words of grace and encouragement.

Maybe you’re a little or a lot like me and you rather not hear it or read it all again. Consider giving the story of the Cross another chance. Grab a copy of Last Words of Jesus by Stu Epperson and find yourself loving the tale all over again. Better yet, each chapter comes with its own set of discussion questions so you can take the journey with others.

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