Thabiti M. Anyabwile. Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 100 pp. $10.00.
Christians all over the world take the season of Lent to focus on the Lord in a more concerted way the usual, sometimes by fasting or giving something up, sometimes by spending more time in the Word and prayer, and often by a combination of two. I know some Protestants oppose the observation of Lent, but I don’t want to get into that here. I think believers should always be God-centered and Cross-centered; because we’re easily distracted, I think it’s good to have seasons in which we consciously focus more on the person and work of Christ.
I love reading about the cross and resurrection all throughout the year, but I do intentionally read at least one book in this area during every Lent season to help me mediate more deeply on the glorious gospel. With Lent this year beginning in three days (on this Wednesday), there are a few new book releases that are perfect for the season. One of these is Captivated by Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman. Comprised of five short chapters adapted from five sermons preached leading up to Easter, this book was written out of a conviction that the Scriptures exhort us to take long looks at God and to contemplate His ways, especially in connection to the cross and resurrection of Christ – to “look beneath the surface to find more of the never-ending treasures of Christ,” to “stare at Jesus and be captivated by Him.”
Chapter 1 looks at a question inspired by the agony Christ expressed in the garden of Gesthemane – “Is there no other way?” – and expounds upon why this was the only way and why the Cross was necessary. Chapter 2 looks at the cry that Christ uttered from the Cross – “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” – and unveils the mystery of the nature of the Father’s abandonment of the Son on the Cross. Chapter 3 considers how in the death of Christ death itself has died, and how believers in Christ can now have victory over death. Chapter 4 looks at the resurrection, specifically the angels’ question in Luke 24:5: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” The book concludes with a chapter on epistemology in relation to Jesus and the resurrection.
Because this is a short book based on a series of sermons, it’s good for devotional use. Each chapter ends with a set of questions for further meditation and reflection. This book is saturated with Scripture and Anyabwile is a faithful and skilled expositor of the Word; I can recommend the book without reservation in terms of biblical faithfulness and orthodoxy. However, it’s just not extremely meaty and the one who has read a lot on the cross will not likely learn anything new. This would be a great book on the cross and resurrection for newer believers or those who haven’t read much in this area. Just shy of 100 pages and written at a popular level, it’s a quick and accessible read.
Official Book Trailer:
*I received a free copy from the publisher via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an unbiased review.