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Book Review: King’s Cross, by Tim Keller

Recommended. A Gospel-centered, insightful look at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in the book of Mark.

In a book trailer at TimothyKeller.com, Keller says he wrote King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus “for people who are exploring Christianity from a distance and for seasoned professional ministers, and for everyone in between–to help them take a closer look at the surprising truth and power and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” If that’s the case, he has hit his mark. Keller’s style of writing is like his preaching: accessible and respectful of the skeptic and challenging and reinvigorating for the seasoned Christian.

What I like best about this book is how it takes familiar passages from Mark–for example, Jesus’ baptism, or Jesus’ healing of the paralytic, or Jesus’ calming of the storm, or Jesus’ crucifixion itself–then casts them in a fresh light, showing their contemporary relevance to our everyday lives, and then poignantly finding the “thread” within them that, when followed, leads to the Gospel. Keller’s writing portrays Jesus as a God-man who ministers with authority and wisdom, whose identity is eternally rooted in the “dance” of the Trinity, yet for whom the cross ever weighs on his heart and thoughts. The book’s structure helps illustrate this: the first half (“The King”) illustrates Jesus’ identity, and the second half (“The Cross”) explores Jesus’ purpose.

Keller’s chapter on the cross (“The End,” which precedes “The Beginning”) is perhaps the crown jewel of this book, though that distinction is difficult to make. Keller’s treatment of the cross isn’t focused on gory physical details, but rather on the infinitely worse torment of Jesus’ separation from God. If you are like many Christians who scratch their heads at Jesus’s words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, you will walk away from this chapter stunned into worship.

The appeal of this book for professional ministers or sermon lovers will be that each chapter is culled from Tim Keller’s sermons, complete with excellent illustrations (ranging from a George MacDonald’s children’s tale to rare glimpses into Keller’s personal life), helpful definitions of commonly used (but oft misunderstood) words (like “gospel” and “religion”), and wise applications if each discussed passage. If you are a pastor seeking to approach the gospels in a way that communicates to contemporary audiences without abandoning Christ-centric teaching, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this book.

This isn’t a book where there is a little something in it for everyone–rather, it is filled with encouraging, love-spurring, worship-prompting, life-changing explication of the Gospel. It makes real what God has come and done for us. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at TeachingtheCore.com. He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

One Response to Book Review: King’s Cross, by Tim Keller

  1. Don Williams says:

    THanks for your review. Our Shepherd Group is reading it and I teach next Sunday. Your review was helpful.
    Don W

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