The last days of Jesus: the despised but undefeated King

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And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:33-39)


After hours of mock trials, brutal torture, having been made to carry His own cross to the place of His crucifixion and finally having spikes driven through His hands and feet, Jesus’ work was nearly done. Darkness covered the land and a cry came from Jesus, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

From the cross, as Jesus quoted the first verse of Psalm 22, we’re left to wonder what was happening in that moment. What was happening between the Father and the Son, no one can say. But as Jesus cried out, intentionally quoting this psalm of David, we gain a better picture—for in all its details, this psalm is about Jesus.

Perhaps, it was a final reminder to the people that all that was occurring was happening according to the Scriptures. He was scorned by man; He was despised my His people. He was mocked, just as the psalmist said He would be (Psalm 22:6-8).

“He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35)

And when He breathed His last, and as the temple curtain was torn in two, those witnessing the events were left in awe, just as the psalmist sang:

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27-28)

Jesus was despised, but He was undefeated. The King of the Jews would die, but through His death “all the families of the nations” would worship Him.


Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for us. Thank you that He endured the punishment we all deserve so we can truly worship you. Please help us to stand in awe when we consider the events of Good Friday, just as those who witnessed the death of Jesus did. Amen.


Photo via Lightstock

Six books Christians should read on the death of Jesus

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Easter is a very important time of year for Christians (And in other news, water is wet). It’s a time of year when the last vestiges of cultural Christianity work in our favor and people actively come to church (which means an opportunity for them to hear the gospel that they might not have otherwise). But it’s also a time when we more intentionally reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

While no book can substitute the kind of preparation that comes from reading our Bibles, here are a few easy-to-read books that are worth considering:


Scandalous by D.A. Carson

Based on a series of lecture delivered in 2008, Scandalous is Carson’s “modest attempt . . . to provide an introductory explanation of the cross and resurrection,” as he looks at what five passages of Scripture have to teach us about this central point of the Christian faith. This short work is one of the best primers on not only the central event of the Bible, but of human history.

Scandalous…highlights important theological truths in accessible and applicable ways. Both amateur theologians and general readers will appreciate how Carson deftly preserves weighty theology while simultaneously noting the broader themes of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through exposition of five primary passages of Scripture, Carson helps us to more fully understand and appreciate the scandal of the cross.

Learn more: my review

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon


The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

“If it is true that the cross is of central importance to biblical Christianity, it seems that it is essential for Christians to have some understanding of its meaning in biblical terms,” writes R.C. Sproul in the opening pages of The Truth of the Cross (pp. 5-6). This small work takes readers on a walk through the Scriptures to show the necessity of the cross:

Opening the Scriptures, Dr. Sproul shows that God Himself provided salvation by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross, and the cross was always God’s intended method by which to bring salvation. The Truth of the Cross is an uncompromising reminder that the atonement of Christ is an absolutely essential doctrine of the Christian faith, one that should be studied and understood by all believers.

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon


The Cross of Christ by John Stott

I can’t think of a more important book on the cross written in the last 20 years;

“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. . . . In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” … From one of the foremost preachers and Christian leaders of our day comes theology at its readable best, a contemporary restatement of the meaning of the cross. At the cross Stott finds the majesty and love of God disclosed, the sin and bondage of the world exposed.

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon


Raised with Christ by Adrian Warnock

Adrian’s excellent book does a wonderful job of showing that it’s not just the cross that matters—we dare not neglect the resurrection:

In Raised with Christ, author Adrian Warnock exhorts Christians not to neglect the resurrection in their teaching and experience.Warnock takes his cue from Acts, where every recorded sermon focuses on Jesus’ resurrection. He stresses that Christians who faithfully proclaim both the death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and live out the implications of that message in vibrant,grace-filled churches, will be enabled to reach a world that lives in death’s dark shadow.

Learn more: my review

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon


Raised? by Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson

As I wrote in my review, Raised? offers a thoughtful and welcome apologetic for a newer generation of doubters. They don’t want to scare off doubters or make people shy away from questions. But they do want them to be willing to do something with their doubts—find answers.

Buy it at: Amazon


The Final Days of Jesus by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor

One of the things I love about this book, incidentally, is the authors actually go into the date options for the crucifixion (which is kind of neat).

On March 29, AD 33, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem and boldly predicted that he would soon be put to death—executed on a cross, like a common criminal. So began the most important week of the most important person who ever lived. … Designed as a day-by-day guide to Passion Week, The Final Days of Jesus leads us to re-examine and meditate on the history-making, earth-shaking significance of Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, and empty tomb.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


While there are so many others worth considering, these are a few of the books I’d recommend checking out as you prepare for Easter. What are some you’d recommend?