How are Christians to approach the central gospel teachings concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus? The Bible firmly establishes the historicity of these events and doesn’t leave their meanings ambiguous or open to interpretation. Even so, there is an irony and surprising strangeness to the cross. Carson shows that this strange irony has deep implications for our lives as he examines the history and theology of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.
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.
“This expression ‘to take up one’s cross’ is not an idiom by which to refer to some trivial annoyance—an ingrown toenail, perhaps, or a toothache, or an awkward in-law: ‘We all have our crosses to bear.’ No, in the first century, that sort of interpretation would have been impossible. In the first century it was as culturally unthinkable to make jokes about crucifixion as it would be today to make jokes about Auschwitz. To take up your cross does not mean to move forward with courage despite the fact you lost your job or your spouse. It means you are under sentence of death; you are taking up the horizontal cross-member on your way to the place of crucifixion. You have abandoned all hope of life in this world. And then, Jesus says, and only then, are we ready to follow him.” (Page 25)
“Our culture is so present-oriented that we filter out depictions of final judgment; we are not frightened of hell. We are far more frightened of war, old age, sickness, disease, and bankruptcy. We are more frightened of temporal judgments than final judgment.” (Page 51)
“We live in an age where the one wrong thing to say is that somebody else is wrong.” (Page 42)
“Paul is convinced that the root problem is our rebellion against God, our fascination with idolatry, our grotesque de-godding of God.” (Pages 43–44)
“God knows, that in one profound sense if Jesus is to save others, he really cannot save himself.” (Page 27)
Don Carson’s clarity in communicating Scripture is a great gift, and in this book, he gives it to us. This professor can preach. These are model messages on crucial passages. They are delicious meditations that instruct our minds and feed our souls. Biblical content—straight, ripped, hard, solid—this is what Carson gives us about Christ’s cross and resurrection. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.
—Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C.
This is vintage Carson—informed exegesis and engaging exposition, theologically rich and devotionally warm, lucid, insightful, probing. God’s truth glows! Don Carson shows us what the Bible is for, and his words make me want to preach the scandalous cross of Christ with greater passion.
—Bill Kynes, senior pastor, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, Annandale, Virginia
Don Carson has provided a rich, thoughtful, and theologically honest introduction of the person and work of Jesus. With the biblical fidelity, clarity, and wisdom we have come to expect from his writings, Carson provides a treatment of the ironies of the cross not merely as a literary device but as a powerful analysis of the subversive, upside-down nature of the cross; namely, the powerful, redeeming, trusting king of the universe becoming a powerless, marginalized, and crucified savior. He believes that Jesus cried this cry, ’My God! I am forsaken?’ so that for all eternity we will not have to be. This is a scandalous picture of Jesus’ loving act of self-identification and self-donation for the godforsaken. We are grateful for his fruitful labors in showing us the irony of the mocked king who really is the king, not only for the Jews but also for the entire world.
—Stephen T. Um, senior minister, Citylife Presbyterian Church, Boston, Massachusetts
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