When I was first contacted about reviewing the book The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times, I jumped at the chance. I was surprised to hear that it was written by Bill O’Reilly. In fact, I had a thought that perhaps it wasn’t the same Bill O’Reilly that I was thinking about; that surely there was a different Bill O’Reilly writing about Jesus. But, as it turned out, it was indeed the same Bill O’Reilly that I had in mind. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. But, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and read his book. I’m so glad I did.
The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times takes a very thorough and historical look at not only the times that Christ lived in, but at how His last days took place. However, intertwined with the historical facts and settings, thought-provoking and interesting pictures, as well as a lesson in Jewish tradition, we find a beautiful narrative that retells the biblical stories we are familiar with covering the years of Jesus’ ministry and leading up to His Passion upon the cross and the days that followed. As I read, I couldn’t help but smell the fragrant oils that mixed with Mary Magdala’s tears as she washed Jesus’ feet. I couldn’t help but imagine the dusty roads that He and His followers would travel upon and feel the warm summer sun upon my face. I felt the intensity of Judas Iscariot’s stare as he watched Jesus talk about their Passover plans. I could hear Christ cry out in pain as He is scourged by the Roman “death squad”. And I felt Christ’s agony as His crucifixion and death upon the cross were presented in a very real way; one that takes a simple view of the crucifixion and instead replaces it with a clear picture of the torture and pain that Jesus went through to save us from our sins.
When I had finished the book, I had a much greater appreciation for the man who was called Jesus. Often when we read the bible we do so with the knowledge that Christ was both God and man. And while The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times presents Christ in this manner, it does so in a way where we can connect with the very human nature that was present alongside of the very Godly nature that encompassed Jesus’ being. All my life I have been taught these stories and yet this book presents them in a very human way. By the time I was done reading, I felt like I knew another side of not only Jesus, but all of His disciples as well.
As we move closer to Christ’s Passion, I urge you to read this book. It will provide you with a greater appreciation for Jesus’ tremendous sacrifice on the cross, it will help you understand our Jewish roots, and it will show you what great risks the early Christians went through to become followers of Christ. You will feel a connection to Christ that you have never felt before. If you are looking to feed your faith and grow closer to Christ this Lent, I highly recommend reading The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times by Bill O’Reilly.