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Monday, March 3, 2014

"Captivated" (Thabiti M. Anyabwile)

TITLE: Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus Death and Resurrection
AUTHOR: Thabiti M. Anyabwile
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014, (100 pages).

The Cross of Christ is the central symbol of Christianity. It can be seen in churches all over the world. Christians wear them. Bibles have them. Martyrs died for its cause. While the early Christians had been persecuted because of the Cross, modern people have treated the cross sometimes as a decoration around their neck rather than a declaration of faith. The Cross deserves a good hard look by anyone. We need to simply be captivated by it. Take a long look at Jesus. Come and see the work and deed of Jesus. Ask if there is more than one way to be save. If one says yes, one needs to ask why Jesus then has to die. If one says no, one will appreciate the death of Jesus even more. Think about it. If Jesus knows that there is more than one way to salvation, why in the first place does he bother to go to the cross? That will be most baffling. Unless of course, John 14:6 means exactly what it says. Anyabwile is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in the Grand Cayman Islands as well as a council member with the Gospel Coalition and has written a powerful little book to help readers be captivated by the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection He does this with five key questions

First, he asks if "Is there is no Other Way?" This question ponders about the motivation for Jesus to go to the Cross to suffer and die. As he does so, he finds a profound understanding with regards to God identifying with humankind; the deep compassion of Christ; Jesus as a Mediator; Jesus making atonement for mankind; Jesus proving the righteousness of God; Jesus revealing the glory of God. When the Heavenly Father denies Jesus the request to take away the cup of suffering, He has a bigger reason in mind. The very fact that many of us struggle with the whole meaning of it all deserves a long hard look indeed.

Second, he asks the same question as Jesus: "Why Have You Forsaken Me?" It is a terrible thing to be left behind. It is even more terrible to be left behind by the one who loves you. Called the world's biggest abandonment, Anyabwile uses the lament in Scriptures to help plumb the depths of pain and despair. Asking the question helps us recognize that Jesus can fully and perfectly understand all of the world's loneliness and suffering.

Third, the death followed by the Resurrection of Christ turns death upon its head: "Where, O Death is Your Victory?" Come to think of it, death too can die. While death means the end of life, the resurrection wipes everything away be brings everlasting life. The author describes two kinds of death. A physical death that includes every person. A spiritual death that essentially means being cut off from God. It is the spiritual death that ought to arrest our bigger attention.

Fourth, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" is a constant reminder that life does not end with death. It begins with the resurrection. The redirection must happen so that we do not become too fixated on the cross until we forget that Jesus has resurrected from the dead. The cross is a symbol but the Resurrection proves Jesus is alive! It also redirects us from emotions to Scripture; from current events to God's providence; from law to Gospel; from grief to joy.

Finally, "Do you not know these things?" is a question that raises three key facts. Jesus has come in the flesh. Jesus is God's only Son. Jesus is Lord. These things form the key Christian Education that every believer needs to know.

I like the simplicity of this book that helps us be captivated by Jesus, the Cross, and the Resurrection. Questions have a way of helping us contemplate and meditate on the truths of the Christian faith. Anyabwile has given us a very clear and understandable book on the theology of the Cross and the Resurrection without heavy theological vocabulary.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Reformation Heritage Books and Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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