Jesus’s Final Week, William F. Cook III. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2022.
Summary: A day-by-day discussion of the events in Jesus’s life from the triumphal entry until the empty tomb, using a “harmony of the gospels” approach.
The final week of the life of Jesus before the resurrection occupies a disproportionate part of each of our four gospels. In fact, some observers have described the gospels as “Passion narratives with long introductions.”
We often read these accounts in different gospels, which can be confusing as we try to imagine how events mentioned in one gospel mesh with those of another. Scholars use these differences to highlight the unique emphases of each gospel writer. Cook takes a different approach, which he describes as “horizontal,” using a “harmony of the gospels” resource to arrange all the events into a day-by-day chronological account that begins with the triumphal entry and ends with the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances.
For each day, he offers concise discussions that offer helpful background, explain any Old Testament scripture quoted or otherwise relevant, summarize key points in the day’s events and their significance, and then offers concluding reflections, often offering applications for our lives. For example, Cook concludes his chapter on The Triumphal Entry with this:
” We should ask ourselves how often we are overcome with emotion when we consider that many people we love and care about are on the precipice of God’s judgment. I fear we sometimes get used to loved ones and friends not knowing Jesus. We need to shed more tears and pray more passionate prayers for their salvation.”Cook, p. 12.
We often overlook the temple controversies on Tuesday. I thought Cook’s discussion quite helpful of the four questions asked of Jesus and the final question Jesus asks of the religious leaders. The events of Thursday and Friday are given more space with a chapter each devoted to the last supper, including Jesus’s prayer in John, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Jewish Trial, The Roman Trial, and the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The final chapter discusses the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and evidence for the resurrection.
One of the nice features of each chapter was to include a hymn related to the material in the chapter. I often found myself at least mentally singing through the hymn. One of the things this ought suggest is that this is a wonderful devotional resource as one prepares to remember Passion Week. It also makes for a good Lenten study and includes a study guide for groups. There’s still time to get this for this year or to have on hand for the next.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.