Preparing For Good Friday and Easter

When you read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), you quickly realize that they aren’t biographical accounts of Jesus’ life. At least they’re nothing like the biographies that we are used to reading. For starters the only incident recorded between Jesus’ birth and when his public ministry began at approximately 30, was when he was a 12 year old in the temple asking questions of the religious leaders.

Another indication that the gospels are not traditional biographies is that so much attention is placed on one week of Jesus’ life. Matthew spends 20 chapters on Jesus’ 33 years and 8 chapters on the last week. The other gospels are similar (Mark spends 6 out of 16 chapters, Luke 5 out of 24 chapters, and John 8 out of 21 chapters on Jesus’ last week). Clearly this isn’t an accident or coincidence. The reason that the gospels spend so much time focusing on the last week of Jesus’ life is because how Jesus died tells us a lot about who he was and what he came to do.

I recently read Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor’s new book The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Every Lived courtesy of Crossway’s Beyond the Page program. In the book the authors map out the last week of Jesus life organizing the material from the different gospels in chronological order so that we can see how the week played out day by day.

One of the things that I really appreciated about this book was that neither intellectual questions nor devotional content was sacrificed. When one sets out to harmonize the gospels it becomes apparent that there are sticky questions that have to be addressed such as how many donkeys were involved in the Triumphal Entry and how many angels were at the empty tomb? The authors helpfully explain why those aren’t contradictions while keeping the focus on the spiritual meaning of the events.

Another thing that I appreciate about the book is that it answers the question: “Why was Jesus killed?” from not only theological perspective (as a sacrifice for sin) but also historically and politically (because he was a threat to the Roman power structures).

“Up to this point [Triumphal Entry] in Jesus ministry, he could still have managed to live a long, happy, peaceful life, but his actions on Sunday set in motion a series of events that could result only in either his overthrow of the Romans and the current religious establishment–or his brutal death. He has crossed the point of no return; there would be no turning back. Caesar could allow no rival kings.”

Without understanding the political threat that Jesus posed to Pilate or the threat he posed to the religious establishment, it’s difficult to understand why a teacher of love and peace would ever end up being crucified.

This 224 page book would be helpful for personal reading, family devotions, or even handing to a friend who is considering Christ. You can’t walk away from reading about Jesus last week without being deeply affected.

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