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I don’t really think about the Gospel.
That probably sounds surprising. But it’s true. Over the past few years, I’ve loved inductive Bible study and memorization, but when it comes to thinking about Gospel on a day to day basis, I… well… don’t.
Just a little while ago, I began my journey back to refocusing on the Gospel. One of the things that was instrumental in this process was a little book called "Cries From the Cross" by Erwin Lutzer. It was given to me by a family friend, but I waited over two years before I finally picked it up. One day I finally did. And I loved it.
Cries From the Cross is a book about the seven last cries of Jesus before His death. Dr. Erwin Lutzer goes through each one of Jesus’ cries beginning with the first cry, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” to the last cry, “It is finished.” He writes in a very warm and engaging style, weaving in stories and other tidbits to illustrate his points. This book is a fast read — it has seven chapters along with a preface and epilogue. Two of my personal favorite chapters were “A Cry of Assurance” and “A Cry of Suffering.” The latter one talked about Jesus’ words, “I thirst.”
Dr. Lutzer discussed how Jesus created all the waters of the earth, and yet He thirsted. As the wrath of God was poured out on Him, He was dried up from its heat, not only physically but also spiritually. One point that struck me from this chapter was Dr. Lutzer’s section on hell. A main attribute of hell is thirst. In Jesus’ parable about the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man cries out in Hades, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame” (Luke 16:43, ESV). As Dr. Lutzer says in his book, “Hell is heightened desires with decreased satisfaction” (p. 115).
Yet a Christian’s story doesn’t end with the thirst of hell. “Thankfully, Jesus suffered parched lips that we might be able to drink from the wells of salvation” (p. 115).
One of the beautiful aspects about this cry is how it relates to the Gospel of John. I studied the first twelve chapters of John last year in a competition, so I love when it pops up again in other books. John includes the theme of living water in both his gospel and in Revelation. John 4 talks about the story of the woman at the well (read more about the Lessons at the Well), and John 7:37 shares the invitation of Jesus, “Whoever thirsts let him come to me and drink.” John is also the only Gospel that contains the exact phrase, “I thirst.” Out of all the New Testament writings, his have the most references to water.
Revelation 22:17 ESV says,
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price”
Jesus thirsted so that we might be satisfied.
The Gospel is something I want to focus on more throughout the day so I can live in the freedom that Christ has called me to. And I’ve got a long way to go, but I want to remind myself that that’s okay. Christ’s work is already enough.
Gospel heals. Gospel fulfills. And in the quest of Gospel-centered living, I highly recommend Cries From the Cross by Dr. Ewin Lutzer.