Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger have produced a little gem of a book in The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived. The book aims to set forth from scripture just what the title suggests. The authors explain exactly how the last week of Jesus’ ministry unfolded, from Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday. They write,
“This book covers Jesus’ final days. In these pages you will read the eyewitness accounts of what the most important person who ever lived said and did during the most important week of his life… We will put the accounts together in roughly chronological order” (p. 13-14).
To that end the body of the book comprises chapters that correspond to each day of the week (see table of contents below). For each event in the final week of Jesus’ life, the scriptural text appears and is followed by concise commentary on that text. The commentary is very well done and will prove helpful to anyone wishing to get an informed perspective on these critical days of Jesus’ life.
The authors explain up front that their purpose is not academic. Rather they aim “to provide an aid to informed worship” (p. 21). To that end, the intended audience of this book is “churches, families, small groups, and individuals” (p. 20). The hope is that readers will make their way through the material during Easter week by reading each chapter on the corresponding day of the last week of Jesus’ ministry.
I really appreciate what Köstenberger and Taylor have achieved in this book. There is a vast wasteland of skeptical commentary on the gospel accounts of Jesus life. But this is not that kind of book. They treat the gospels as reliable eyewitness testimony. The authors contend that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not comprise four different gospels, but four different accounts of the one gospel (p. 16). For this reason, we should not expect contradiction in reading the eyewitness testimony of the apostles. Diversity of perspective? Yes. Contradiction? No. They write, “Our primary response to the Gospels is not to criticize or to find fault but to believe” (p. 17).
I commend this book to you as a resource that you might find useful this Easter season. The subject matter is the most consequential that there is—the most important week of the most important person who ever lived.
Table of Contents
1. Early in the Week: The King Comes for His Kingdom (Sunday–Tuesday)
10. Epilogue: Later Appearances of Jesus and the Ascension
Who Do You Say That He Is?