Book Review: Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson

Scandalous“When men and women across the ages, whether in Bible times or in our times, come to believe, truly believe, that Jesus rose from the dead to be Lord and Savior, utterly vindicated by his heavenly Father, they find it changes everything”, writes Carson. “That is one of the greatest lessons of all the resurrection accounts”.

The scandalous message of the Cross has been for many a stumbling block but for others it’s the hope of life. Carson has written Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus to provide an introductory view of the cross and the message contained therein. Providing the reader with signposts that point to truth Carson leads readers on a journey through the scandal that is the cross.

We begin our journey by looking at the ironies of the cross which was an extremely helpful look at the aspects of the cross which are so obvious that people often overlook them in their reading of the gospel narratives. Carson lists the ironies as follows:

  • The Man Who is Mocked as King is the King
  • The Man Who is Utterly Powerless is Powerful
  • The Man Who Can’t Save Himself Saves Others
  • The Man Who Cries Out in Despair Trusts God

The first 25 pages lay out the view of the gospel narratives as though you were flying over them in an airplane. You can see them from a distance but you haven’t seen all the details yet as you could if you were on the ground. Carson takes his readers for an up close and personal view of the implications of the Cross as he points out in the next chapter the most important of all aspects, in my mind, of what was accomplished that day on Calvary. Speaking of Paul, Carson tells us, “He [Paul] establishes the source of God’s righteousness in the gracious position of Christ Jesus as the propitiation for our sins”. He dives right into this most important doctrine by defining exactly what is meant by redemption and propitiation from a biblical standpoint, which is really the only view ministers of the gospel should take. Carson drives this point home when he closes out the chapter by telling us that, “Everything we know and appreciate and praise God in all of Christian experience both in this life and in the life to come springs from this bloody cross”.

The next section covers the Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb specifically by diving into the narrative of Revelation 12. Here Carson displays the gospel not only from the view of the Christian but displays the message of the cross and what it means to Satan. It is in this chapter I found something that I had to read through  a couple of times until it finally set in what Carson was trying to convey. When Carson writes, “Do you not understand that we overcome the accuser on the ground of the blood of Christ? Nothing more and nothing less”, what I believe he is getting across is that we are justified alone by the blood shed on the cross. There is no justification apart from what was accomplished on the cross when Christ took upon himself the wrath of the Father and drank it down the very dregs in our stead. He became our substitute and died the death that we could not in order for us to have the life we could not obtain for ourselves. You may be wondering where the word of our testimony comes into play. Aren’t we saved by that also? This is the point Carson is making, our testimony is just that–Christ came into this world when I was still in my sins and took my place upon the cross and died for me so that I may have eternal communion with the Father in heaven. That is at the foundation of every Christian testimony ever given. Though it took me a second to get it I finally understood what Carson was saying and it has partially changed the way I view the message of Revelation 12.

From Revelation we jump back to John where we see Lazarus, dead in the tomb, and the Resurrection and Life about to step into the human scene of death and dying. It is in this portion we see that Jesus, enraged at death, brings hope to those who have faced death and grief in their past. In this narrative we see the unnatural order that death has created under the curse which Adam brought about and the reversal of that curse in the cross of Christ. As we end this trek through the scandalous cross we finally end our trip by visiting Thomas and his utterance that Christ was Lord and God, a truly amazing statement by any means.

This book is well written, theologically accurate and utterly dependent on the biblical text for a short exposition on the cross of Christ. I would recommend this book for any who would seek to know what foundation we have as Christians. The truth presented in this book is that of the cross and what the scandalous message means for us today. Take up this text and read afresh the message which has soaked this Christian life since before the foundations of the world.

Pick up your copy today from

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
By D.A. Carson / Crossway Books & Bibles


One Reply to “Book Review: Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson”

  1. Pingback: Daniel Beaulieu

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