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Book Review on Tim Keller’s The Grieving Sisters

23 Jun

Two Grieving Sisters Encounter the Vulnerable God: Book Review by David P. Craig

TGS Keller

This booklet is the third in a series of essays based on some lectures that Tim Keller gave to students in Oxford, England at the Oxford Town Hall, England in 2012. This essay is an exposition of Jesus’ encounter with May and Martha and the death and resurrection of their brother Lazarus in John 11.

The encounters that Jesus has with Martha and Mary demonstrate both the supreme power of Jesus in His Divinity, and the humble humanity of Jesus in his weakness displayed in His grief over the death of Lazarus. Jesus is portrayed in this story as both fully God, and fully man simultaneously. Jesus gives Martha and Mary exactly what they need in their extreme loss over their brother – He is empathetic toward their suffering and suffers with them, and He is omnipotent and reveals His compassion in raising Lazarus from the dead.

Tim Keller shows in this short booklet why it was necessary for Jesus to take on flesh in order to save us. He needed to become powerless, and vulnerable in order to go to the cross to obtain our salvation. He writes, “The founders of every other major religion said, ‘I’m a prophet who shows you how to find God,’ but Jesus taught, ‘I’m God, come to find you.'”

We ultimately have no reason to despair because Jesus is the “resurrection and the life.” He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because He became weak unto death, and He is able to grant us eternal life because He is able to raise the dead. What Keller drives home in this exposition of John 11 was how He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – but also how Jesus “became human, mortal, vulnerable, killable–all out of love for us.”

I would recommend this booklet especially for those who have lost loved ones, or are experiencing great suffering. Keller’s essay will give you hope in your grief and show you how to be comforted by the sacrificial love of Jesus. The gospel is powerful for believers to strengthen their faith, and for non-believers to begin their journey of faith. Tim Keller addresses the man or woman with faith, as well as the doubting and grieving with compassion, guidance, and compellingly presents how in the Lord Jesus Christ we can find our satisfaction and abundant joy.

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