Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions / by Timothy Keller. 3.3.2015

Dutton ISBN 9780525954354

Adult Rating: *5

Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions is shorter than most of Timothy Keller’s other works–and is well worth the read. Using stories from Jesus’ life, the book focuses on questions that Christians and non-believers all have at some point in life, such as: “What is my purpose in life?” “Why is there so much wrong in the world?” As explained in the introduction, the first five chapters are based on talks given at Oxford University in 2012. The remaining five chapters are based on messages delivered to a breakfast club for businessmen at the Harvard Club in Manhattan. Keller’s purpose in writing this book was so that the reader would be “struck again by the person of Christ and what he has done for us” (p. xvii).

In the first half of the book, Keller turns over the rich theological soil found in the Gospel of John, expounding on several meetings with Jesus. He goes beyond the typical Sunday school version of the stories of Nathaniel; the Samaritan Woman; Mary, Martha, and Lazarus; Jesus’ mother at the wedding party at Cana; and Mary Magdalene to reveal the true purpose of these individual stories and why they are relevant to the reader’s struggles 2000 years later. With glaring wit and perception and highly accessible language, Keller pulls each individual story into the whole story of Jesus’ first coming. Keller’s one-of-a-kind insight makes this book a delight for both Christians who want to go deeper into the Scriptures as well as the skeptic–no mean feat to accomplish.

In the second half of the book, Keller searches other Scripture passages and focuses on Jesus’ roles as Advocate and Obedient Master. His insight into the Ascension–a topic not discussed nowadays as frequently as it should–is both enlightening and inspiring. Keller concludes the book with a focus on the humility and obedience of Mary as a model for all Christians.

This book would be a great choice for a weekend retreat, personal devotions, or an evangelistic book study.

Martha Jo Dendinger, CLJ

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