Lent begins this week, and I definitely want to be more spiritually prepared for celebrating Christ’s resurrection than I have in years past. Thankfully, in God’s sovereign timing, I received Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Thabiti Anyabwile in perfect timing to turn my eyes crossward.
Thabiti’s goal in Captivated is to help us learn how to stare. Normally it’s rude to fix our eyes on something, but to take long looks at the cross is the most worthy opportunity to gaze. In all my attempts to be cross-focused and go to a gospel-centered church and have a gospel-displaying marriage and a Christ-centered family, I have done poorly at slowing down and really thinking about what happened in Christ’s death and resurrection. It served my soul greatly to read Captivated as Thabiti explained the scriptures to me more deeply.
I kind of expected that a book about the cross would just quote a bunch of pastors and theologians, rephrasing rephrases and simply finding new ways to tell me things I already knew. But, refreshingly, for this book Thabiti rarely dipped into man’s words and primarily used scripture to help me behold Christ. He used verses from all over the Bible---verses I had never even noticed---to give me a deeper glimpse into what happened in those three days after which sinners could become justified once and for all.
In my favorite chapter, “Why Have You Forsaken Me?”, Psalm 22 and other supporting scriptures pounded into my heart the mysterious forsakenness Jesus felt at the cross for my sin. As Thabiti says on pg 25, “The Father’s abandonment of Jesus leads to the sinner’s adoption. God abandons one perfect Son in order to adopt millions of sinful sons. It is the only abandonment with any honor and redemption.” As I continued to read of the agonizing abandonment Christ experienced on multiple levels---and ultimately abandonment by the Father Himself---not only was I gripped by His mercy but I was comforted by what He accomplished. I should never feel forsaken by God because Jesus already drank every drop of forsakenness for me.
This book was incredible. Concisely and beautifully written, Captivated truly helped me get my eyes off myself and instead gaze at the cross and the empty tomb. Though the topic of Christ’s death and resurrection can never be exhausted (hence the beauty of its mystery!), Thabiti did an excellent job of humbly expositing scripture to aid readers in better understanding---and appreciating---what was done there. The questions for reflection at the end of each chapter helped drive these truths home even more. As I believe was Thabiti’s intention, Captivated successfully brings its readers to their knees in worship and repentance. Gazing at the glorious Christ tends to have that effect on people, and I’m grateful that this resource helped me do just that.
Disclosure: I received a copy from Reformation Heritage Books through Cross-Focused Reviews for free in order to give an unbiased review.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
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