When was the last time you were captivated by the cross? Or enraptured with Christ’s resurrection? And why does it matter, anyway?
Consider this thought from Thabiti Anyabwile’s newest book, Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection (emphasis added):*
“The truth of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is a daily reality for those who believe in Him. Yet from time to time, that daily reality requires extended contemplation and reflection, and we should ponder its meaning so that it does not become daily neglected. Christians need deeper glimpses into the mystery of God and His salvation. We need times of slow, contemplative consideration of the wonder of Christ’s work for us.”
As the title suggests, Captivated gazes hard into the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s the kind of gaze that strips away any superfluous distractions and looks straight into the truths of His surrender, the agony of His abandonment, the glory of His victory, and the joy of His resurrection.
Captivated isn’t a just simple story that you can read and forget, or a set of pretty platitudes that lack any real power. Rather, it considers the following difficult aspects of Christ’s death and resurrection:
1. Is There No Other Way? (Matthew 26:42)
Christ’s famous prayer of surrender in the Garden of Gethsemane asks whether there was any other way for the Father’s plan of redemption to be manifested.
2. Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46)
Christ’s cry of anguish as He faced the fullness of God’s wrath alone on the cross, expresses the utter abandonment He experienced for the first (and only) time in all of eternity.
3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory? (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
Christ’s victorious triumph over death stripped sin of its greatest weapon, and removed death’s sting for all who believe on Him.
4. Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead? (Luke 24:5)
Christ’s glorious resurrection redirects our focus from grief to joy, from circumstances to divine providence, and from law to gospel, as we learn to live in light of its truth.
5. Do You Not Know These Things? (Luke 24:18)
Christ’s discussion with two men on the road to Emmaus reveals that senses, emotions, and experiences can lie — and we can only know God’s truth as He opens our eyes to see.
Captivated is a short book, only 95 pages. In fact, its text was originally presented as a series of five Easter sermons by Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile. But it also works well as an in-depth meditation on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Each chapter ends with a handful of questions “for further gazing and reflection.” They connect key points from the preceding chapter with cross-references throughout Scripture, ask “why” questions, and add clarification to the reader’s understanding of the gospel.
I would definitely recommend this book — in fact, I would suggest reading Captivated as part of a dedicated time of personal worship, during the days immediately preceding Easter, to help you become more deeply captivated by Christ Himself.
I also have one paperback copy to give away!
If you’re interested, leave a comment by midnight on Monday, with one aspect of Christ’s death or resurrection that especially intrigues or astounds you.**
Update: Congrats to Cameron for winning the giveaway!
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews, exchange for an honest review, as part of the Captivated blog tour. All opinions expressed herein are completely my own. This review contains my affiliate link, and has also been published simultaneously on Amazon, CBD, and Goodreads.
**Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, ages 18 and older. Winner will be chosen randomly and notified by email. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen randomly and notified.