Tim Keller’s newest book, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, is scheduled to be available today, so it’s a good time to dip into his second chapter.
What is the gospel according to Jesus? What do you think of Keller’s two-fold idea about the gospel?
The Gospel of Mark opens with a pronouncement by Jesus about the gospel: “The time has been fulfilled. The Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the gospel.” That announcement is followed by Jesus’ call to discipleship.
Keller examines two themes in this chp: the gospel and the call.
The gospel. Keller discusses the gospel in two ways, one through the lens of our inability and one through the lens of Jesus’ vision. The word “gospel” has connections to the Roman world’s announcement of history-changing events, and what changed with Jesus was that we moved from “religion” to the “gospel” — from advice on how to live to someone doing it all for us.
This leads him to the gospel of the kingdom, where God is King and we have chosen to be our own king but the good news is that Jesus is that true King. More could be made of the “time has come” and thus tie gospel to the completion/fulfillment of Israel’s Story.
Gospel implies discipleship: Jesus’ words “Come follow me” are the summons to make Jesus preeminent where “everything else comes second” (19). He discusses discipleship over against a cultural trend: the problem with fanaticism and the problem of moderation. The way out of this is gospel: “If you seize that gift and keep holding onto it, then Jesus’ call won’t draw you into fanaticism or moderation. You will be passionate to make Jesus your absolute goal and priority, to orbit around him; yet when you meet somebody with a different set of priorities, a different faith, you won’t assume that they’re inferior to you. You’ll actually serve them rather than oppress them” (21).
The gospel is “about being called to follow a King” (21). This King is Someone who with the authority and power to do what needs to be done.