Captivated by Thabiti M. Anyabwile is everything you would expect in a book based on a short series of sermons from a committed Christian pastor. It minimizes distractions, chases no rabbits, and pulls no punches. This makes Captivated a great little book to hand out within the church to think more deeply about the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
First, it minimizes distractions. You have a 94-page paperback. There is no space to waste on possible locations of Golgotha or ratcheting through the chronological options for the year of the Passion of the Christ. In fact, with a book this size, there is no space to spend on political posturing or self-aggrandizement. Captivated goes right to the heart of the matter.
Second, Anyabwile chases no rabbits in Captivated. While the body of work overall from Anyabwile shows he loves the whole Bible, his time here is focused on the events of the Passion of Jesus. He is not derailed into why the atonement means we can now eat bacon or any other sub-points. Throughout the pages, Captivated is locked on the salvation and new life purchased by Jesus for His people. Even the discussion questions that follow each chapter are on point, no warbling off into the woods in search of obscure points.
Third, Captivated pulls no punches. There is no softening of the point here: Jesus died because we are sinners. True, Jesus died, rose, and reigns for His own glory—but the punishment, the difficulty, it was all due to our sinfulness. It was done because of the fallen humanity that needed a Saviour. And it falls to us to repent and follow, not merely to talk and discuss.
All in all, I like this book. Captivated is not expensive, so if you are on a limited church budget or just want a copy for yourself, it is within reach. There are digital forms available, so you grab that as well. I think it would help you, or a whole local body, understand why Easter matters so much. Of course, it is not seasonally limited, but it’s worth doing sooner rather than later.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for the review.)