127 pages / 2006
First of all, two notes about the tags at the bottom of the review, and one challenge:
- Yes, you can definitely read this book "in an evening or two," but please don't. Instead, Piper's book would be ideal for reading or sharing with others, perhaps in the weeks leading up to Easter, every year or two – one two-page chapter per day. Each of the fifty reasons is an occasion to deepen our gratitude to God, who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
- Second, although I have included the tag for "apologetics," this is not a book for debating with non-Christians; however, it is an excellent way to become grounded in just how much the death of Christ is good news. Again, worth reading regularly to keep ourselves aware of the beauty of Christ's work accomplished on the cross – and that's something that's worth sharing!
- Here's the challenge: How many Biblical reasons could you give for why Jesus came to die? Five? Ten? (That would probably be my upper limit!)
"controversy about which humans killed Jesus is marginal. He chose to die. His heavenly Father ordained it. He embraced it."God's "embrace" of the purpose(s) of Christ's death was shown by Christ's resurrection. Piper's introduction ends with a consideration of how Elie Wiesel, the well-known Jewish historian of the Holocaust, links the death of a single victim of the concentration camps to the death of Christ, asking
"Is there a way that Jewish suffering may find, not its cause, but its final meaning in the suffering of Jesus Christ?"Piper's repudiates the anti-Semitism of some Christians by noting that Jesus, himself a Jew – with all Jews as His early followers – died a meaningful death, so that much "more important than who killed Jesus is the question: 'What did God achieve for sinners like us in sending his Son to die?"
Fifty two-page chapters answer this all-important question. The first should be obvious to any Christian: "To Absorb the Wrath of God." The last takes us back to the introduction: "To Show That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good." Piper ends with a prayer that is also an appeal to his readers – that they would accept Christ's death as meaningful and purposeful for themselves as well, "the most important event that ever happened."
A bibliography of books that address the historical reliability of the Bible in chronicling Christ's life is a further resource to address those still doubting the accuracy of the New Testament.
If you believe that knowing the Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die will strengthen your ability to glorify God and make His greatness known to others, you can get it as a free pdf here or you can buy a paper copy at Amazon.com here, or Amazon.ca here.