King’s Cross: The Story Of The World In The Life Of Jesus, by Timothy Keller
When one reads quite a few books by an author, as is the case with me, one can understand certain patterns that take place. For example, it happens that before reading this book I had read another one by the author that discussed stories from the Gospel of John, and it so happens that this book focuses on the stories and approach that we find in the Gospel of Mark. Though since ancient times some people have sought to blend the various Gospel accounts together into one harmonization, part of the joy of reading the Gospels consists of the way that the different perspectives and backgrounds of the four writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John combine to make four compelling cuts of the Gospel story. By virtue of being next to each other each of them presents a contrast with the others by what is included, what is not included, and what connections the authors draw between the various stories told and the biblical and societal context. Mark, of course, is well known for telling the Gospel story from the point of view of Peter and for having an action-oriented message, and that is a good fit for what Keller is saying here.
This book is divided into two parts and is a bit more than 200 pages, and the two parts of the book give the book its rather English-sounding title. The first nine chapters of the book focus on Jesus Christ as the king (I), and the second nine chapters look at the cross and its looming presence over the second part of the Gospel of Mark (II). We have chapters about the dance of faith (1), the call to follow Christ (2), miracles of healing (3), and Jesus’ search for rest in the face of continual activity (4). After that we look at the power of Christ and how it was manifest in the world (5), the waiting for God to act (6), the stain of contact with sinners and the ill (7), the approach of the Canaanite woman to Jesus to obtain healing for her daughter (8), and the turn of Jesus towards Jerusalem and death (9). The second half of the book continues with discussions of Jesus on the mountain (10), the trap that his enemies sought for Him (11), the ransom that He paid for us (12), and his experiences in the temple (13). Finally, the book concludes with the promised Feast of the Passover (14), the cup of wrath that staggered Him in the garden (15), the sword of punishment He faced (16) as well as His crucifixion (17) and resurrection (18).
By and large the author does a good job at presenting the breathless pace and sense of action in the Gospel of Mark in this work. He manages to present some worthwhile insights about the sort of approach that we can use that avoids some of the culturally-dependent and unbiblical aspects of our own focus on rights with regards to appealing to God, as if we had some sort of claim upon His goodwill towards us. If the title is a bit odd (more on that in a future book review), the volume is a good read and the book is definitely one that many can enjoy. I must admit that in my own reading, I tend to give the book of Mark a bit less attention because I find much more to appreciate in Matthew, Luke, and John, but this book demonstrates that there is plenty to appreciate about what Mark has to say and how he tells the Gospel story. This shouldn’t be ignored by those of us who, for whatever reason, prefer the other Gospels for what they have to offer.