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What Does Jesus Do with our Biggest, Nastiest Work-Related Problems?

In Mark 5, a synagogue leader (Jairus) comes to Jesus desperate for the healing of his ailing daughter. The young girl is on the brink of death, and Jairus knows that Jesus is the last hope. Yet, on the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus apparently fails to see the urgency of Jairus’ daughter’s condition, because he stops and has a conversation with a healed woman. When they finally arrive at the house, Jesus claims that the girl is asleep (although everyone there knows that she is literally, physically dead). He goes into her and says what translates as, “Honey, get up.”

Tim Keller, while writing about the incident with Jairus’ daughter, says,

“Jesus is facing death, the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race and such is his power that he holds this child by the hand and gently lifts her right up through it. ‘Honey, get up.’ Jesus is saying by his actions, ‘If I have you by the hand, death itself is nothing but sleep.’

–Tim Keller, King’s Cross, p. 68

In this incident, we see several lessons to take with us to work:

1. If Jesus’ power so overwhelms death, it is our greatest resource on the job. As Christians, we are to strive toward excellence with every atom God has given us. Yet, problems will relentlessly arise in our tasks, our relationships, and our circumstances. We will have great idols to overthrow both within and outside of ourselves. No amount of human excellence will ever conquer death, and no amount of your excellence will ever conquer all of the problems you encounter in your job. In matters big and small, we must seek the master of death. Where we see death, he sees a mere nap. Where we see a mountain, he sees a pebble to be tossed into the sea. As Christians, we have access to the only infinite power in the universe.

2. God’s timetable isn’t our own. Jairus (and any of us who don’t know the end result of this event) could only have been mortified by Jesus’ lack of hurry. However, ultimately Jairus got much more than even he asked for–he got his daughter AND a deeper glimpse at the magnitude of Christ’s power. Jesus wasn’t just a healer–he was the killer of death.

3. The gospel is that Jesus makes death a mere nap for us by experiencing the fullness of its desolation and destruction in our place. This good news, if we repeat it to ourselves throughout our workday, if we pray that God will make it the beat of our heart, will utterly destroy the moralistic, legalistic, self-righteous, love-earning mentalities that Christians too often become infamous for in the secular workplace. Jesus Christ suffered every iota of death’s poisonous sting so that we don’t have to. Not a lick of our performance at work made his death any less bitter, any less toxic, any less complete. He died. He went to hell. For us. For our failures. For our weaknesses.

Now we can go to work alive. Successful through the redemption of our failures. Strong through the awareness and acknowledgement of our weakness.

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The Premise of Tim Keller’s latest book, King’s Cross

As I flipped back through the marked-up pages of my copy of King’s Cross, by Tim Keller, I found one passage that described the Gospel and it’s relevance in an appropriately all-encompassing manner. In describing what King’s Cross is about, Keller pointed to

“the historical Christian premise that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the central event of cosmic and human history as well as the central organizing principle of our own lives. Said another way, the whole story of the world–and of how we fit into it–is most clearly understood through a careful, direct look at the story of Jesus. My purpose here is to show, through his words and actions, how beautifully his life makes sense of ours” (p. x).

Some notes:

  • “historical Christian premise” — this isn’t a new idea; the all-encompassing nature of Jesus is not ground-breaking
  • “the central event of cosmic and human history” — the proportion of what Jesus did isn’t limited to my personal life or even the whole of human history; the entire universe resounds with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice
  • “the central organizing principle” — I believe Keller is here referring to the Gospel; though, in good fashion, he does not refer to it as “the Gospel” until he has explained, in a later chapter, what that word means. It is refreshing to hear it described in a way that would be intelligible to outsiders. I might say a hundred times, “The Gospel changes everything,” and not one of those times would that make sense to someone who has a different meaning attached to the word Gospel. Communicating in various ways is a strength worth investing in

 

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.

King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, by Tim Keller

I was on TimothyKeller.com today and discovered that Tim’s next book will be coming out twice as fast as his prior release’s–this one is set for March of 2011, just about half a year after Generous Justice.

I’m especially excited for this one, because Tim’s series on the gospels consistently bring me to a place of deeper longing for and awe of the One they reveal, Jesus Christ.

I’m also excited because, with King’s Cross, readers will get another dose of Tim’s style: gentle yet firm, humble yet bold, welcoming and challenging for believers and skeptics alike.