Five Books for Good Friday: Meditations on the Cross

Today is Good Friday, a day that is very good yet very horrible at the same time.  It’s good because the perfect sacrifice, the lamb of God, was sacrificed for our sins.  It’s horrible because that lamb was Jesus, whom we love, and he was brutally tortured and killed.  What a tragic, beautiful mixture of bitterness and sweetness.

My book list today focuses on the cross.  These books explore that sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.  All of the books take a different approach to the topic, but you might find one that would be a good tool for meditation for today.


1. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

This surprisingly small book is packed with scripture and Piper’s typical meditative style.  Each “reason” constitutes a chapter.  In Chapter 1, we learn Christ died “To Absorb the Wrath of God,” Chapter 12 tells us how Jesus died “To Take Away Our Condemnation,” and Chapter 30, Piper tells us how this sacrifice enables us “That we  Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness.” And of course, Desiring God has a free downloadable version of the book online here.


2. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

In this Journalist’s quest to find evidence to support the truth of Jesus, there is much discussion about the crucifixion and it’s historical accuracy.  He also cites medical experts about the method of Jesus’ death.


3. Death by Love: Letters from the Cross by Pastor Mark Driscoll & Gary Breshears

This book is different from Driscoll’s other books in that it’s written as a series of letters to suffering members of his church who are seeking his council.  He speaks about how Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can bring meaning and healing to each of these situations.


4. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

This classic text was written by a young Lutheran pastor who was killed for plotting to murder Hitler.  Enough said? Read the whole book, but for Good Friday, read the chapter on “Discipleship and the Cross” where Bonhoeffer delivers his famous line: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”


5. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

I’m a big fan of Douglas’ work, and The Robe is easily his best work.  Don’t just watch the movie.  The book is so much better.  The story follows a Roman soldier who is one of the people casting lots for Jesus’ clothing at his crucifixion.  He “wins” and gets Jesus’ robe.  But his winnings are his torment.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for sharing these. I’ve had all of these on my to-read list except for the Lloyd Douglas book, which I hadn’t heard of.

    Last month I read a good one on the cross – A.W. Pink’s “The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross”. I’d recommend that one highly also.

    AL: I don’t know why Douglas has gone so much out of fashion. I consider him one of the great Christian fiction writers who preceded this more current wave of Christian fiction we have right now. His writing quality is first class. There’s also a sequel to the Robe called The Big Fisherman, about Peter. And his other best seller, Magnificent Obsession, is also one of my favorite works of Christian fiction.

    Haven’t heard of that book, but I’ll have to check it out! At a good friday service a couple years ago, my husband got assigned one of the sayings of Jesus on the cross, and he got “I’m thirsty.” So, Dan talked about what happens medically when people get thirsty. I wonder if that book mentions that saying.

    • I read The Robe many years ago and was absolutely enamored of this Lloyd Douglas book. I haven’t heard of The Big Fisherman but plan to pick it up this week. Wonderful reading for this holy week. Thanks!

  2. I read Piper’s book in preparation for Easter and really liked it.

    AL: I’m glad! Pretty classic piper, but I like how short it is, easy to read before Easter to reflect. A nice book to read a little each day between Palm Sunday and Easter.

  3. i love reading the short reviews i felt to read a bit more to get inspired to own the book. for example, bonhoffer’s “when christ calls a man he bids him come and die.

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