“Reader, Jesus Christ crucified was the joy and delight, the comfort and the peace, the hope and the confidence, the foundation and the resting place, the ark and the refuge, the food and the medicine of Paul’s soul. He did not think of what he had done himself, and suffered himself.
He did not meditate on his own goodness, and his own righteousness. He loved to think of what Christ had done, and Christ had suffered,—of the death of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the blood of Christ, the finished work of Christ. In this he did glory. This was the sun of his soul.
This is the subject he loved to preach about. He was a man who went to and fro on the earth, proclaiming to sinners that the Son of God had shed His own heart’s blood to save their souls. He walked up and down the world telling people that Jesus Christ had loved them, and died for their sins upon the cross.
Mark how he says to the Corinthians, ‘I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins.’ (1 Cor. 15:3.) ‘I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ (1 Cor. 2:2.)
He,—a blaspheming, persecuting Pharisee, had been washed in Christ’s blood. He could not hold his peace about it. He was never weary of telling the story of the cross.
This is the subject he loved to dwell upon when he wrote to believers. It is wonderful to observe how full his epistles generally are of the sufferings and death of Christ,—how they run over with thoughts that breathe, and words that burn about Christ’s dying love and power.
His heart seems full of the subject. He enlarges on it constantly. He returns to it continually. It is the golden thread that runs through all his doctrinal teaching and practical exhortation. He seems to think that the most advanced Christian can never hear too much of the cross.
This is what he lived upon all his life, from the time of his conversion. He tells the Galatians, ‘The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ (Galatians 2:20.)
What made him so strong to labor? What made him so willing to work? What made him so unwearied in endeavoring to save some? What made him so persevering and patient? I will tell you the secret of it all. He was always feeding by faith on Christ’s body and Christ’s blood. Jesus crucified was the meat and drink of his soul.
And, reader, you may rest assured that Paul was right. Depend upon it, the cross of Christ,—the death of Christ on the cross to make atonement for sinners,—is the centre truth in the whole Bible.
This is the truth we begin with when we open Genesis. The seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head is nothing else but a prophecy of Christ crucified.
This is the truth that shines out, though veiled, all through the law of Moses and the history of the Jews. The daily sacrifice, the Passover lamb, the continual shedding of blood in the tabernacle and temple,—all these were emblems of Christ crucified.
This is the truth that we see honored in the vision of heaven before we close the book of Revelation. ‘In the midst of the throne and of the four beasts,’ we are told, ‘and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.’ (Rev. 5:6.)
Even in the midst of heavenly glory we get a view of Christ crucified. Take away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book. It is like the Egyptian hieroglyphics, without the key that interprets their meaning,—curious and wonderful, but of no real use.”
–J.C. Ryle, “What Think You of the Cross?” in Startling Questions (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 273–276.