Book Review: Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection By Thabiti M. Anyabwile
A few months ago my wife asked me to give her some suggestions for devotional reading. She wanted something that would help stir up her heart in devotion to Christ as she contemplated entering a new year. I did give her a handful of suggestions, and she has benefited from them, but by the time I got through half a chapter of this book I knew that what I had in my hands was exactly what she needed!
In much the same way that Isaiah calls us to “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9), and the Apostle asks us to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 3:1), Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile invites us to take a long look at Jesus Christ. His new book, Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, is both a call to enter into the contemplation of our Savior, and an excellent catalyst to assist us in the undertaking. This is a wonderfully heart-stirring book, and I heartily recommend it to every Christian reader.
Pastor Thabiti uses five questions, rooted in five passages of Scripture, to help us to dwell on the mystery and glory of Christ’s death and resurrection. In Chapter 1 he asks, “Is There No Other Way?”, drawn from Matt. 26:42, “Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”. As we are drawn to contemplate the necessity of Christ’s death and resurrection for the accomplishment of our salvation and the display of God’s glory, I trust your heart’s devotion to Christ will be as strengthened as mine was.
In Chapter 2 we consider the question “Why Have You Forsaken Me?” from Matt. 27:46. This question brings us to consider what actually took place that day as Christ hung on the cross, and the effects that the answer to that question have on our hearts are truly limitless. In Chapter 3 the question for contemplation is “Where, O Death, is Your Victory?” in light of 1 Cor. 15:55. Which bids us to think about the treasure that is ours as a result of Christ’s finished work.
“Why Do You Seek the Living among the Dead?” is asked in Chapter 4, as we are brought to Luke 24:5. And Finally, we consider the question “Do You Not Know These Things?” in Chapter 5, as we consider Luke 24:18 “Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’” In this final chapter we are brought to contemplate not only what we believe about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but on what basis we believe these things, as the subject of epistemology is raised to a fruitful end.
Each of the five chapters concludes with a list of additional questions for contemplation. These are not the typical study questions that just seem like they are meant to see if you actually read the chapter. These are questions well suited as aids to help us to think long and hard about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to contemplate His Glory, to dwell upon His matchless grace, until our hearts are bursting with praise to His glorious name.
In conclusion, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The last time my heart was this stirred by a book was when I read “The Heart of Christ” by Thomas Goodwin! There exists no true Christian who would not benefit from taking the time to think deeply upon the majesty of our Savior, and this book is a fantastic means to that end.
I also recommend listening to the Confessing Baptist podcast’s interview with Pastor Anyabwile about this book.
His Throne is Forever and Ever!