What God did to Win Your Heart
This book was a favorite of mine back in college, a dozen or more years ago. I was struck by Max Lucado‘s ability to dig deeply (at least in a thought-provoking, creative sense) into the details surrounding Christ’s death. He gets tangible here, touching the wood of the cross, feeling the garment, watching the blood. It’s a surreal experience, but I think it could have become far more so, had Lucado not filled the pages with his all-too-common sappy romantic personal illustrations.
In fact, I’d like to see a bare-bones version of this book that delivers only the tangibility of the crucifixion alongside the pertinent passages and a minimized statement of application. With such an offer as that, Lucado could deliver an Atonement favorite, a study that could go down as a classic of Christian literature. As is, though, it just feels too much like a feel-good message that’s more creature-focused than Creator-. The constant mantra, “He did it for you,” while true, tends to minimize the eternal plan of our sovereign God by maximizing the personal nature of His sacrifice. It’s off-balance, and that very imbalance is what’s wrong with contemporary Christianity. This is why the impact of such a book as this—or any one of the hundreds of other “best sellers” that hit the Christian market each year—is merely felt but not experienced, temporary and not lasting a lifetime.
That being said, I’d like to share even less than the bare-bones of He Chose the Nails by recording one catch-all line from each chapter of the book. Hopefully this will give you a sense of the power of such a study without having to slog through the whole thing yourself.
The Spit – “For some reason, the One who chose the nails also chose the saliva. Along with the spear and the sponge of man, He bore the spit of man.” (20)
The Crown of Thorns – “If the fruit of sin is thorns, isn’t the thorny crown on Christ’s brow a picture of the fruit of our sin that pierced his heart?” (26)
The Nails – “Had the soldier hesitated, Jesus Himself would have swung the mallet…He knew that the purpose of the nails was to place your sins where they could be hidden by his sacrifice and covered by his blood.” (35)
The Sign – “Hebrew is the language of Israel, the language of religion; Latin the language of the Romans, the language of law and government; and Greek is the language of Greece, the language of culture. Christ was declared King in them all.” (45)
The Two Crosses – “When one prayed, Jesus loved him enough to save him. And when the other mocked, Jesus loved him enough to let him. He allowed him the choice. He does the same for you.” (56)
The Path – “The path began, not in the court of Pilate, but in the halls of Heaven.” (63)
The Garment – “Garments can symbolize character, and like his garment, Jesus’ character was seamless. Coordinated. Unified. He was like his robe: uninterrupted perfection.” (73)
The Torn Flesh – “In the horror of his torn flesh, we find the splendor of an open door.” (82)
The Wine-soaked Sponge – “Why did the throat of Heaven grow raw? So we would know that He understands; so that all who struggle would hear his invitation, ‘You can trust me.'” (94)
The Blood and Water – “Positional and progressive sanctification. God’s work for us and God’s work in us. Neglect the first, and you grow fearful. Neglect the second, and you grow lazy. Both are essential, and both are seen in the moistened dirt at the foot of the cross.” (103)
The Cross – “When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so that you would know He died loving you.” (115)
The Burial Clothing – “God can turn any tragedy into a triumph, if only you will wait and watch.” (120)
I enjoyed this book and still consider it to have been an important part of my own Christian education. Many of these points Lucado makes still come to mind when I read the account of the crucifixion. If you don’t mind sap, it’s worth the read.