Even for those who know the Bible well, it can be difficult to piece together the final week of Jesus as it is chronicled across the four gospels. This is why I’m excited to see a brand-new book by one of my favorite people: Justin Taylor. Justin is a popular blogger at Between Two Worlds, a senior vice-president and
publisher for books at Crossway, and an author and scholar in his own right. He has teamed with Andreas Kostenberger on a book that is sure to be a terrific reference for Bible students: The Final Days of Jesus. Today I interviewed him for Leadership Journal. Here was one of my questions:
Did anything surprise you about the last week of Jesus?
On the one hand, the story is so familiar to many of us that there are no blockbuster surprises. But it’s one of those stories where there is always more to see in what we see. For example, it makes the doubt and skepticism of Thomas all the more poignant and ironic when we remember that he had already witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead not that long ago (cf. John 11:16).Or, as another example, take the two thieves on the cross who hung on either side of Jesus. If you only read only Luke 23:32, 39–43, you might get the impression that one starts off open to the gospel of grace, while the other is already hardened in his rejection. A close reading of Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32, however, demonstrates that both men started off by reviling Jesus, mocking him, wagging their heads, using their diminishing energies to hurl insults at the only man who could save them. But only one of them had his eyes opened to see himself as a sinner in need of a Savior.And as we vaguely recall the story, we tend only to remember him asking Jesus not to forget him in paradise. But if we read Luke 23:40–42 carefully, we see that this mocker turned seeker now had new spiritual eyes to see, and that in a very short while he really understood the heart of the gospel, that (1) the holiness of God was to be feared, (2) the sin in himself deserved condemnation, (3) the innocent one was being punished, (4) Jesus was the king, ruling from the cross, and (5) only Jesus could offer him mercy and eternal salvation.