Encounters with Jesus
by Timothy Keller
The following articles are summaries of the chapters in Timothy Keller's book, Encounters with Jesus. The summaries include questions designed to help you discuss the Scriptures covered in the book with other believers. At CFNW we are using Keller's book in our Cell Groups.
A new summary will be posted every Thursday. Beginning January 11th and ending March 21st.
The Skeptical Student
Timothy Keller calls our attention first to a skeptic’s encounter with Jesus found in John 1:43-51. It is in this encounter that John, through the words and actions of Jesus, “addresses perhaps the most fundamental of all the big questions: Where should we look for answers to the big questions of life?” (p. 1). Here Jesus helps “those who are skeptical about Christianity, and also [those] who face skepticism from those who do not believe” (p.1).
The Insider and the Outcast
In this chapter, Keller takes us to two different encounters with Jesus, one with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 and the other with the woman at the well in John chapter 4. While these encounters with Jesus are two of the most familiar and commonly preached upon, they are often talked about in isolation. Keller suggests that these encounters are intentionally consecutive in the gospel of John and are best understood together. As Keller works through these two encounters, first the woman at the well (the outcast) and then Nicodemus (the insider), he aims to highlight how these encounters illustrate the biblical answer to the question of “What’s wrong with the world the way it is?”
The Grieving Sisters
In chapter 3, Keller takes us to Jesus’ encounters with Mary and Martha who are grieving the death of their brother Lazarus in the gospel of John chapter 11. Keller aims to show how these encounters reveal to us who Jesus is and what he came to accomplish.
The Wedding Party
In previous chapters, Keller defended that some encounters of Christ help us understand that Christ came to the earth as the incarnate God because our world is broken and in a dark condition. Keller now prompts us to think about how things in this world can be put right. In chapter 4, The Wedding Feast, Keller discusses Christ’s miracle of turning water to wine at the wedding feast as recorded in John 2:2-11 and defends that this encounter is not just a miracle but rather is a sign that informs us of who Christ is, his understanding of our need, and the solution he has provide for our need.
The First Christian
In chapter five, Keller explores what must be done in light of one’s understanding of how Jesus makes right all that is broken in the world. Examining the resurrected Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb in John 20:1-18, Keller sees two realities about faith. Keller writes, “Christian faith is both impossible and rational (Keller pg. 83).”
Encountering Jesus in Spiritual Warfare
In chapter six of Encounters with Jesus, Keller demonstrates that Christ is with us in the spiritual conflict we are engaged in and all of the trials and struggles that this causes. He does this by examining Jesus’ own struggle with spiritual conflict at the beginning of his earthly ministry and concludes that we can learn much from his encounter. Keller explores three areas: who the enemy is, where the enemy attacks, and how we are to fight.
The Two Advocates
Keller begins this chapter by looking at Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” He states that in this passage Jesus addresses many subjects and topics that are important for believers to understand. However, there is a major theme found within the “farewell discourse.” This is that of the advocate that is to come once Jesus is departed from His disciples.
The Obedient Master
Keller uses this chapter as a platform to describe the importance and beauty of the obedience of Christ, hence the title of the chapter, “The Obedient Master.” Keller looks at the scene just before the crucifixion of Christ, the scene at the garden of Gethsemane. Keller claims that this scene presents more information about the death of Christ than most realize and there is a clear response to the story.
The Right Hand of the Father
In this chapter, Keller discusses the ascension of Christ and its impact on believers. Although many people view Jesus’ ascension as just another event, Keller argues that it has enormous significance on the way we live today. He encourages the reader to think beyond what happened and meditate on why it happened.
The Courage of Mary
In chapter 10 Keller looked at the story of the annunciation by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah. Keller spent time looking at this because in many ways she responds how we ought to. When she receives this message, she has not yet met Christ. Neither have we, the New Testament believers, met the physical person of Christ. The angel then gives her a gospel message which includes details of who Jesus is and what he is coming to do.