Review: Thabiti Anyabwile’s Captivated


Captivated is a book of collected sermons on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One that succeeds in being unified, engaging, and paced as a book. Thabiti starts by pleading with us to stop and gaze at Jesus, to slow down and stare. Let truths that are familiar captivate us once more.

The size and pace of the book compliment this urging. You can soak the truths in as you read. The page count won’t drowned you. But Captivated also moves along at a steady pace. This balance provides a sense of gravity and freshness to the historical truths of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The first chapter examines the question, “Is there no other way?” Thabiti shows why the cross was absolutely necessary, not only for our good, but God’s maximum glory (17) and for His own justification as just. The second chapter plows the question, “Why have you forsaken me?” This chapter yielded one of the most poignant quotations in Captivated.

Egypt lays in darkness for three days, Jerusalem for three hours. After the darkness, Egypt’s firstborn sons were killed; in Jerusalem the only begotten Son of God was slain. In Egypt, a lamb’s blood covered the doorposts of homes. In Jerusalem, the Lamb of God’s blood covered the sins of the world. (27)

I love the new covenant parallels between the Exodus and the passion of Jesus, but I had never seen these crimson threads. This section had me stopping and meditating and gazing. The next chapter examines Jesus’ victory over death and the triumphant victory we enjoy because of it. The fourth chapter encourages us to spend as much time meditating on the truths of the resurrection as we do on the cross. Thabiti says, “All life lived apart from the resurrection is a really slow death” (65). The last chapter tackles the difficult topic of knowing the resurrection as truth. Thabiti reminds us the Spirit sovereignly opens our eyes to the truth of Gospel, which doesn’t diminish the absolute necessity of the gospel’s truth claims. You cannot deny the resurrection and have salvation (88).

Captivated is pound for pound one of the strongest books on the topic of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thabiti succeeds in his goal of causing to stop and gaze. He provides the church with a gift--an approachable book that doesn’t intimidate and doesn’t pull punches. This is a book you can confidently handout to new believers as a gospel primer and also be assured it will encourage the mature saint.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Mathew Sims is the author of A Household Gospel Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and also writes for CBMW Men’s blog, Gospel Centered Discipleship, and Servants of Grace. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel Centered Discipleship. They attend Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, SC.