A Closer Look at Calvary

Elizabeth Johnson

3.5 Stars

October 23, 2012

In Christ Our Mediator, C. J. Mahaney urges us to consider Calvary from God’s perspective. It’s a short book — less than 100 pages — and could easily be read in one sitting. However, it is certainly not a light read; there’s a lot of truth packed into its pages. Additionally, Mahaney ends each chapter with a prayer of reflection and surrender, which makes the book ideal for a daily meditation on the cross.

The book begins with an entreaty to get our feelings in line: in other words, stop investing our feelings with “final authority.” Rather, he points out that, “when we focus on truth, reliable feelings follow, anchored in truth.” It’s a good reminder to evaluate what we’re resting upon: how we feel vs. what we know to be true.

Mahaney then goes on to consider the cross, the central part of God’s gospel of redemption. As the title suggests, Christ Our Mediator is the One who bridges the gap between a holy God and an unrighteous people.

I would caution, at this point, that Mahaney seems to place limitations upon God, saying that only a human could pay the penalty for sin. I was discussing this section with my husband, and he pointed out that God could have chosen whatever way He wanted to provide redemption: God is not limited by man’s legal way of mediation. Which, of course, is true. God could have chosen to save us some other way.

But the fact is, a Savior who was both fully God and fully man was chosen to be the propitiation. And, Mahaney’s limitation aside, it certainly behooves us to look more closely at His role as our Mediator.

The rest of Christ Our Mediator dwells on the mystery and miracle of the atonement, from Christ’s agonizing prayer at Gethsemane, to His arrest and judgment, to the very moments of His crucifixion. Mahaney does not spare us the gory details and utter horror of Calvary; rather, he begs us to watch as Christ drinks the full fury of the wrath of God — the cup of judgment that was meant for us.

But thankfully, the book doesn’t end there!

The anguish of Calvary ends in pure joy and incomprehensible salvation. And Mahaney encourages us to look again at the gospel, and rejoice in its power and magnificence, and in God’s love and mercy and forgiveness.

So, would I recommend Christ Our Mediator? Mostly.

It is always expedient to spend time meditating on the miracle of redemption. It is always renewing to spend time gazing into the mystery of God’s forgiveness. But I would caution those who read this book, as Mahaney sometimes reads a little too much into the text of Scripture (as in the aforementioned limiting of God). Just read with discernment, as always.