The last words of Jesus are among the most important ever spoken. People have pondered them for nearly 2000 years. Many have discussed and studied them. Others have reflected on them in their own hearts. In Final Words From the Cross, Adam Hamilton shares some of his thoughts about these amazing statements of the Lord. The book is just over 130 pages in length, but still provides some interesting comments on Christ’s words. In addition to its six main chapters, it also includes a postscript and a helpful appendix.
Each chapter begins with a Bible quotation of the text surrounding Jesus’ words, and then presents a first-person narrative. Each of these are from the perspective of someone who stood near the cross. Although these sections are fictional, they are based on information we have from the gospels. The studies that make up the rest of the chapter skillfully weave descriptions of Jesus’ suffering, how we relate to what He says, and other passages as appropriate. The author does a good job of sharing a significant number of verses when he wants to make a strong case about a topic.
For example, in the section where Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” Mr. Hamilton provides multiple verses about God remembering someone. He writes, “In the Old Testament, when God remembered individuals, God delivered them. In Genesis 8:1, God remembered Noah and saved him from the flood. In Genesis 19:29, God remembered Abraham, and therefore spared his nephew, Lot, from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 30:22, God remembered Rachel and opened her womb so she could have a child. In Exodus 2:2, God remembered his covenant with Abraham and therefore delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt” (pgs. 43-44). These portions are among my favorite parts of the book. Most chapters have something similar to the above. They are like miniature studies on a subject that lead readers to a further exploration God’s Word. Their inclusion is valuable and appreciated.
As I read the work, I also noticed that the author sometimes discusses concepts that are not directly related to Jesus’ statements. These asides usually work well, and do not seem out of place. Surprisingly, aspects of the lives of women are a common topic. He uses Jesus’ words to the apostle John and Mary to examine the importance of family members taking care of their parents (pgs. 55-56). Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well is brought up too (pgs. 94-95). It focuses on the importance of not treating others with scorn, and had such an impact on me that I wrote a blog article about it. The author also shares his opinions on women leadership in Church (pg. 54).
Of course, most of the material is more directly related to the Lord’s death. The significance of the three offers of wine, the use of hyssop, and the tearing of the veil of the temple are all examined. These comments are often insightful, and gave me a greater understanding of what was going on during Jesus’ death. I found the discussion on the hyssop branch to be particularly impressive (pgs. 97-99). When he stays within the Bible, and backs up his words with the historical context of the time, the author does a great job.
The two places where he falters is when he injects his own opinions onto the text. This is most often seen in the first-person narratives prominently featured in each chapter. These may be helpful for others, but I found them to be distracting. They are written in a style that seems to inject modern-day thoughts into the people at the cross. This may not be avoidable, but I simply did not believe that the people would be thinking the way they are portrayed. For example, I really doubt that Simon of Cyrene would have been surprised by the horrible suffering involved in crucifixions (pg. 15). They were done publicly to discourage others. The narrative from Nicodemus was also disappointing (pgs. 83-85).
The other problem I had with the book was the author’s discussion on women leaders and teachers in the Church. I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago. I expect that many will agree with what he says there, but he does not actually address the passages that teach against his perspective. Some of these include 1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-12, 3:1-7; and Tts. 1:5-9. Even though what the author says is only a small part of the book, I would be dishonest if I didn’t mention it. I feel compelled to do so. Especially since it is one reason I cannot give the book a higher rating.
After discussing Jesus’ last statements, Mr. Hamilton shares a postscript related to some of the Lord’s resurrection appearances. It has a similar style to the previous chapters, except without a fictional narrative. Like the rest of the book, some of his additional details here are quite helpful. All in all, Final Words From the Cross by Adam Hamilton is a quality book, and something that I can recommend to others except for a couple of caveats. I look forward to reading other books by him in the future.
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Image UsedJesus Hanging From a Cross in Black and White by MichaelGaida from Pixabay.
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