Book Review: Captivated

Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus' Death and ResurrectionWhen 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.


*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviewsexchange 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.


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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Captivated

  1. This book looks really good! What astounds me most about the cross is knowing that Christ knew exactly what He was headed for yet the time leading up to the crucifixion reveal He had a confident and trusting heart in His Father’s plan as recorded in the gospels. And even for the writer of Hebrews to say that Jesus looked beyond the cross to the joy set before Him of obeying His Father and bringing us to God. I know if I had knowledge of some painful plan set out for me I’d struggle with remaining calm and trusting as I waited. Christ knew He came to lay down His life and while He felt the gravity of that plan and pain, He remained committed to His Father. Just something I’ve thought about often.

  2. Definitely something to stop and simply reflect on from time to time. Whenever I consider the vast magnitude of what Jesus did for my with His death on the cross, it completely overwhelms me! I have been without God, and know that emptyness. But even in that – it was nothing compared to bearing the burden of every sin ever. So many that God had to turn His face away and leave him there utterly alone.


  3. […] preceding Easter, to help you become more deeply captivated by Christ Himself.” Reviewer: Elizabeth Johnson ( Rating: 4 […]

  4. Christ’s words on the cross “my God why have you forsaken me” intrigues me the most. I can’t imagine the anguish that Jesus felt from being separated for the first and last time from the Father.

  5. That Christ would endure the devastating horror of the culmination of the wrath of man as the means by which He would be put to His death in which He experienced the cumulative of all my sufferings due me for my sin and sinfulness in my place by the wrath of God.

    That a member of the infinite and eternal Triune God would part even for a moment from His all glorious enjoyment of His Godhood in order to bring a wretch like me into that very fellowship with Him, Them, forever.

  6. Christ absorbing the wrath of God…in my place! Wow!

  7. It blows me away that God gave up his son for us! I can not even comprehend the separation that Jesus and his Father both felt!

  8. I think what intrigues me the most is the other resurrections that occurred when Christ died. I feel like that is not talked about much.

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