The following is a transcript of a sermon preached by Pastor Tim Keller at The Gospel Coalition’s 2013 National Conference at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida.
Luke 24, verses 1 to 53 — this stuff is too wonderful for words. It’s very easy to outline this chapter:
- Verses 1-12, The empty tomb;
- Verses 13-35, The appearance to the disciples on the road to Emmaus;
- Verses 36-49, The appearance in Jerusalem to the disciples; and then
- Verses 50-53, The ascension.
Or if you had a certain turn of mind you could outline it like this: The tomb; the road; the room; the mount.
One of the ways to do this would be to go through it in sections and say, “Well, let’s take a look at the first twelve verses, the empty tomb, and then let’s look at the appearance to the disciples on the road to Emmaus …” but I would rather give you four themes that run through the sections. In every case, the themes are treated and developed in two or more of the four sections. And therefore, let’s look at the messages of this chapter rather than simply going through it section by section. Those four messages are: The resurrection is a shattering historical event; the resurrection is a key to understanding all the Scripture; the resurrection gives us a powerful message for the world; and Jesus is the true King.
The resurrection is a shattering historical event
As a young Christian, I had come up through mainline churches, I was a religion major at a secular university, and this is what I was told about the resurrection fairly often: That after Jesus’ death his disciples “experienced his presence.” They felt very powerfully that he was still with them somehow. And Peter, for example, experienced forgiveness, that Jesus had really forgiven him for his failures and for his denials. And as time went on, as the disciples died out the followers of the disciples began to find ways of expressing these higher truths, these spiritual experiences, and they began to express them through stories that symbolically represented these higher truths in concrete form. So the higher truth that Peter experienced forgiveness from Jesus, turned into John Chapter 21, which is the story of Peter meeting Jesus by a fire and Jesus asking him three times, “Do you love me?” and receiving Jesus’ forgiveness. The stories of the resurrections themselves, were literalistic, symbolic representations of these higher spiritual truths.
John Dominic Crossan put it like this: “Emmaus never happened; Emmaus always happens.” So that’s that view — Emmaus “never happened,” it didn’t really happen. These are legends. And yet Emmaus “always happens” because the higher truths are forgiveness and hope. So the stories, even though they didn’t actually happen, they tell us about these higher truths and their symbolic representations of higher truths.
If you read through Luke 24 even at the simplest first impression level, you want to say, “Oh yeah?” Let’s just start right here. Jesus appears among them and he says, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see. A ghost does not have flesh and bones.” The Old King James says, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as I have.” Jesus says, “Do you have something to eat? Give me something to eat.” So they gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it. Isn’t it wonderful how a higher truth is being symbolically represented there? Jesus eating fish and chips with the disciples. What is the higher truth that is being symbolically represented there?
The message of that text is Jesus is saying, “I’m not a symbol, I’m really here. I am not just an impression in your mind; I am not just a kind of spiritual presence. I’m here, flesh and bones, feel me. Give me something to eat.” It’s trivial, it’s almost silly. Why is it here? Because it happened. The whole chapter has the earmarks of an eyewitness account or eyewitness accounts.
Let me give you three that you may have heard of, at one level or another. I think it’s worth saying because every time I say it, every time I see it written down, I realize that even the most skeptical people have to give credence. Verses 1-12, the initial witnesses to the empty tomb are women. Women in that day and time had low status. That meant that their testimony was not admissible evidence in court, neither in Roman jurisprudence nor in Jewish jurisprudence, and therefore if you’re making up a story, if you’re making up a legend about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you would never put women in there as the first eyewitnesses. It would undermine the plausibility of the account with any of the hearers or the readers of the time, and therefore the only reason that Luke could have possibly put women in as the first eyewitnesses is if they really were the eyewitnesses. There’s no other motivation he would have had to put them in there.
Richard Bauckham points out in “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” that these narratives, including Luke 24, have all the marks not of vision literature, not of religion, but of eyewitness. He says you can see the difference between an account that’s given from the vantage point of an individual in the actual scene as opposed to most legends which are written from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator. An omniscient narrator sees the whole and tells you everything that’s happening, but he says if you read this very carefully these accounts are from the limited point of view of eyewitnesses, people inside. He also asks — what are all these names for? Cleopas? Why is only Cleopas named and not the other disciple? Why the names of the women, Joanna and Mary the mother of James? Why are they being so careful? And he says in ancient times very often when you were giving a historical account based on eyewitness testimony, these were like footnotes. It was like your way of saying if you want to check out what I’m telling you, go talk to these people.
But I think the most important and amazing thing for me occurs in vs. 52. It says, “And then they worshiped him.” As you know, the gospel accounts were written within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses. You also know that the first accounts of the resurrection and the worship, Jewish Christians worshiping Jesus were heard from Paul, which of course were much earlier than even that.
If any of you have insomnia and you need help getting to sleep at night, there’s a book called “The Sociology of Philosophies” by a man named Collins who basically tried to understand how philosophical and cultural shifts happen. And he says the way it usually happens is in the center where everybody believes, and then there’s some outlier outside of the center that starts to write some outlandish ideas, and he’s attacked. And yet, a few people think that’s a good idea and the outlier kind of redefines the center. Because even though everybody believed like this, now this person is saying this and even though they’re getting attacked, some people say, “Well, I’m here between this and this,” and so slowly over a generation or so things shift.
The resurrection is a paradigm-shattering historical event.
Jewish people are the last people on the face of the earth to be open to the idea that a human being could be God. They had a paradigm, you might say. They had a worldview. They couldn’t even say the name of God out loud. They couldn’t even spell it, G-D today even. We know almost immediately they were worshipping a man. They were worshipping a man! How did that happen? It didn’t happen through the sociology of philosophies. It didn’t happen through an outlier and slow changes. No, no, no. Something must have happened; something must have shattered their paradigm. And you know what it was? It was a historic fact. They saw him.
Now, here’s the point: The resurrection was not preached in the early church as a symbolic representation of wonderful higher spiritual truths like, “We must always keep hope.” The resurrection was preached as a hard, bare, terribly irritating paradigm-shattering, horribly inconvenient but impossible to dismiss fact. You know what facts are like. There is a fact. I don’t like it, I wish it wasn’t there, but it’s there. What am I going to do about it? I’ve got to accept it. Now, this isn’t the way our culture works. Our culture is about likes and dislikes, Facebook. It’s all, “I like this, I don’t like this, I like this, I don’t like this.”
Paul was offended by Christianity. He was offended by the gospel. He was offended by the idea that, “What, no more temple? You don’t need a temple, you don’t need sacrifices for sin? It’s outrageous.” He was a Pharisee who was offended by the very idea of Christianity. Then he saw Jesus raised from the dead and then it didn’t matter about his likes and dislikes. It didn’t matter. He didn’t care. He likes this, he doesn’t like this about Christianity, kind of liked this part about Christianity, this part offended him. I don’t care now, because it was a fact and now it doesn’t matter.
We should be more sympathetic to our skeptical friends. The resurrection makes Christianity the most irritating religion on the face of the earth, and the reason is because how do people decide what they believe? They decide what they believe by reading it and saying I like it or I don’t like it. Over the years I’ve had so many people say, “Well, I could never be a Christian.” I say, “Why?” “Well, there are parts of the Bible I find offensive.” I remember years ago it had to do with money. In my little church in Virginia, people were very offended very often by what the Bible said about money. Today in New York they are much more offended by what the Bible says about sex. I usually say, “Let me ask you a question: Are you saying because there are parts of the Bible that you don’t like, that Jesus Christ couldn’t have been raised from the dead?” They say, “Well, no, I guess I’m not saying that.” I said, “Well, every part of the Bible is important, but would you please put the ethical teaching aside for a minute, and here’s the point: If Jesus was raised from the dead, you’re going to have to deal with everything in the Bible. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, I don’t know why you’re vexing yourself over that. But the fact of the matter is Paul was more offended by Christianity than you. He was killing Christians, and we don’t advise that. But when he realized Jesus had been raised, it didn’t matter what offended him anymore. It didn’t matter, because it was true.” And we have to keep that in mind.
The resurrection is key to understanding all the Scriptures
The resurrection, as you can see throughout these verses, is actually a key to understanding all the Scriptures. It starts, interestingly enough, at the very, very beginning because it says when the angels say to the women, “Remember what he said, he told you the Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners and be crucified on the third day and be raised from the dead.” And it says, “And then they remembered his words.” The resurrection helped them understand Jesus’ words. That’s the beginning.
In light of the resurrection, now the things that Jesus said aren’t quite as crazy. Of course, what happens on the road to Emmaus. I think it’s one of the more comedic parts of the New Testament. It says, “Our chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him, but we had hoped he was going to redeem Israel. He was crucified, and we thought he was going to be the Messiah.” And Jesus turns around and says, “How foolish you are, how slow to believe all the prophets have spoken. Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter into glory?” And it says, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” The resurrection paired with the cross makes the cross make sense and opens all of Scripture.
Don Carson in his book, “Love of God,” has a meditation on Acts 9 where Paul meets the risen Christ, and he actually reconstructs what might have been going on in Paul’s mind in those three days when he was blind and he’d just seen the risen Lord. What Don does is he gives you what I consider an extremely revealing reconstruction of what could have happened, and here’s what could have happened. Saul — Paul, the Pharisee — would have been offended by Christianity for this reason: The Messiah by definition is anointed. Messiah means “anointed one,” which means “the chosen one, beloved one.” A Messiah would be blessed by God. The Messiah would have the favor of God. He would please God. But here is this Jesus Christ, supposed to be the Messiah, and he is dying on a cross.
Now even the Romans knew that this was the most ignominious of deaths. The Romans and the Jews knew to die on the cross, that’s the bad end of people who are the lowest of the low. And doesn’t Deuteronomy itself say, “Cursed is he who is hung on a tree.” And maybe Paul didn’t know about this, but if he did it certainly would have gone along with his thinking. Didn’t Jesus actually cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
So here’s what Paul’s thinking: Christianity makes no sense because the Messiah would be blessed by God, would be supported by God, would be accompanied by God, and this guy, Jesus, was abandoned by God, he was cursed. “What kind of fool do you take me for,” says Paul. What kind of salvation could a cycle like that bring? And then he saw him raised from the dead. Uh oh. Wait a minute. So in the darkness he says this: “Well, wait a minute, if he was raised from the dead then God did vindicate him, then God is pleased with him, then God does love him and bless him. But wait a minute, if God does love him and is pleased with him, then when he was cursed and abandoned he must have been cursed and abandoned for somebody else’s sins, not his own.”
And suddenly he turns to the rest of the Bible … which of course Paul would have been able to carry around in his head. He would have looked at Isaiah and said, “OK, in the first part of Isaiah the Messiah is a great king but the second half is all about this strange figure of the suffering servant. They couldn’t both be the same figure, could they?” Yes, they could. Then he looks at the temple and the sacrificial system, and says, “Okay, let’s think about the whole thing. Did the blood of bulls and goats and little lambs, did that really over the years actually completely atone for sins? That wouldn’t make much sense, would it? What if it was pointing to something? What if all that was pointing to Jesus? But okay, now if it’s all pointing to Jesus what does that mean about the temple and sacrificial system?” And then take a look at Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Look at those places where it talks about a New Covenant, where it seems like God is actually talking to people face-to-face and writing the Law on their hearts. It’s almost like there’s no need for a priest or a temple anymore. What is that New Covenant discussion about? How do we understand that? Oh, if Jesus, then that makes sense. What about the promise to Abraham, that through Abraham’s descendants all of the nations of the world would be blessed? How would that ever happen? You see what’s going on? Once he understood the resurrection, he understood the cross, paired together. And once he understood the resurrection and the cross together, he looked back and the whole Bible opened up to him.
Paul had been expecting a strong Messiah to come save the strong. His understanding was the Messiah would have come, he would have gotten up on the horse and he would have saved all those who summon up their strength to follow him and obey him fully. So it would have been a strong Messiah coming to save the strong. But instead he suddenly realized, “Wait a minute, it’s a Messiah coming in weakness to save those who admit their weakness and their need for a Savior.” Once they saw that, it opened everything up. What Jesus is constantly doing here is he is opening their minds to the Scripture, over and over and over again. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us when he opened the Scripture to us.” And then starting at one end and going to the other, he opened the Scripture. He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. And at the very end he does the very same thing. “You are witnesses of these things.” And it says, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms.”
When you preach the word, when you minister the Word of God, whatever part of the Word of God you’re expounding, if you’re going to do it properly you do have to show how it leads us to understand or see Jesus. Jesus seems here to be saying, “It’s all about me; once you see the resurrection and the cross, it’s all about me.” I don’t think it means that every single verse is really about Jesus. However, when you realize that all the lines of the Bible and all aspects of salvation, all aspects of rescue, all those plot lines converge in Jesus Christ, how can you not see Jesus in that because he is the ultimate unexpected Savior who comes, and not at the risk of his life but at the cost of his life, and gives you the opposite of not just what you should expect, what you should deserve? How can you not see Jesus?
The illustration of a friend of mine comes from the movie “The Sixth Sense.” OK, you can only see that movie twice, actually, because the first time you see it and then you get to the end and you find out, “Oh my goodness, there’s this big shocking ending.” The second time you see it you can’t possibly see any part of the earlier passages of the movie without thinking about the end. Right? I don’t want to spoil it for you but Bruce Willis is dead, which is sort of the opposite of the gospel, isn’t it? “The Sixth Sense” is sort of the anti-gospel, you know. You get to the end, the hero’s dead. But at the end of this gospel, the hero is alive. I’ll take this gospel. But my point is once you know the ending you go to the earlier scenes of the movie and you say, “Ah, here’s Bruce Willis and here’s a woman, they’re in the same room, and the first time I thought they were talking to each other, now I realize she doesn’t really look at him.” And you can’t not look at every scene in light of the ending. It’s impossible. John Piper says the same thing: You can’t not — when you know how the story ends — look at that particular passage and say, “But wait a minute, Jesus is the ultimate example of that, whether or not the actual author at that moment was trying to get across a Messianic prophecy or not.” You can’t help it.
I could be practical about this. My wife, Kathy, years ago helped me understand this when she said, “You know, honey, your sermons tend to be like Sunday School lessons until you get to Jesus.” She says, “They’re very informative and people are taking notes,” but she says, “When you get to Jesus it becomes a real sermon.” She says, “Everybody puts the pen down, the pencil down,” and she says, “Everybody just soars.” Even to this day that’s still the number one way in which she decides whether we’ve got a Sunday School lesson here or a sermon. Whether you’re basically instructing people in the minutia and the ins and outs of the text, or whether you’re actually going to preach the Bible, preach the gospel, and preach Jesus.
John Calvin wrote a preface to somebody else’s translation, I guess a French translation of the New Testament, 1535, this was his introduction. It’s going to say He, He, He — it’s Christ.
He, Christ, is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death. He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers however lowly and abject their condition. He is the great sacrifice and bishop Melchizedek who was offered an eternal sacrifice once for all. Jesus is the sovereign lawgiver Moses writing his law on the tables of our hearts by his Spirit. He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua to lead us to our promised land. He is the victorious and noble king David bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection. Jesus is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon governing his kingdom in peace and prosperity. He is the strong and powerful Samson who by his death has overwhelmed all of his enemies. This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: Truly to know Jesus Christ and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father. If one were to sift thoroughly the law and the prophets, he would not find a single word which would not draw and bring us to him. Therefore rightly does Saint Paul say in another passage that he would know nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
The resurrection is a powerful message to the world
It seems pretty obvious as we were reading through that the minute anybody finds out about the resurrection they take it to somebody else; nobody sits on this message. Right away it says — verse 9, when the women meet the angels — when they came back from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven. When the Emmaus disciples came back they told the eleven and those with him what they had seen. And of course at the very end Jesus says, “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Of what? The resurrection. Knowing about the resurrection gives you a message to take to the world.
The resurrection gives you a hope for the future, that the future is there, that it’s personal, that it’s certain, and that it’s unimaginably wonderful. And by the way, it can do that today here.
The future is there
First of all, the future is there. Epicurus, one of the great Greek philosophers, believed that when you died that was it, you were gone. And therefore, he said, don’t be afraid of death because there is no sensation, there’s nothing to be afraid of. You die, it’s like you don’t know anything. Of course most of the common people believed in an afterlife but it was sort of a shadowy underworld and nobody was really sure it was all that great of a place. Many of the Jews weren’t sure about the afterlife, as you know. The Sadducees certainly didn’t believe in the resurrection and perhaps didn’t believe in any afterlife at all. But if you talked to a witness to the resurrection, if you talked to one of these eyewitnesses and saw their changed life and believed the credibility of their account, finally you knew that you were not just dust in the wind. Finally you knew that you were not just a stone that was going to sink to the bottom. That there is a future, that there really is a future. You know, people here today are every bit as sure that there’s no future, and the resurrection says, “Yes there is.” It’s certain, number one.
The future is personal
Number two, it’s personal. See, the Stoics were like Eastern philosophers that said when you die you continue to exist but not as your personal self, you become part of the soul, you become part of the substance of the world. That kind of thing. So you go on, there’s no reason to be afraid. You know, it’s interesting, I continually hear people today that say to me either when you die that’s it, there’s no reason to be afraid of death, or they say I believe when you die you become part of the universe. Or even like a circle of life, The Lion King, you become part of the fertilizer and out of that come plants that other living things eat. You become part of the world, there’s no reason to be afraid of death.
Without the Holy Spirit, the deepest desire of the human heart that we can see is we want to be loved. We want to be loved, we want to be with our loved ones, and the one thing we do not want is to lose our loved ones. The one thing we do not want is love that we lose. See, apart from the Holy Spirit, what most people know, the thing that gives me meaning in life is love, and you’re going to tell me that when you die everything that matters to you is being stripped away from you. Death takes away your loved ones and eventually takes you away from your loved ones, and you’re saying that’s nothing to be afraid of? Oh, no, when I die I don’t know anything or when I die I become part of the universe, I don’t have my personality. But Jesus Christ shows up in the resurrected form and says, “It is me, it is I myself, look at me, there’s still the wounds, it’s me.” Your future is personal. That is the only thing that’s going to satisfy the human heart. When I talk to secular people who say, “I’m not afraid of death,” I say, “You liar.” Actually, that’s not true. That’s too brutal to be honest. The resurrection tells you the future is there; secondly, that it’s personal; thirdly, that it’s certain.
The future is certain
Here’s what I mean by certain. What good is it to be told that there is a personal future, love without parting, surrounded by love, you’re a person, they’re people. What if I were to say the future is available through Jesus Christ, that you can know that you will never be parted from love. Love of the Father, love of Jesus Christ, love of others. It doesn’t console you if you’re not sure that it’s for you. Martin Luther was really good at this. He says, “Suffering is intolerable if you’re not sure of your salvation.” Unless you are sure that in spite of all of your flaws that God is not giving up on you and he’s with you. Suffering is intolerable if you’re not sure of that future. But you can be certain why, because of the resurrection. If someone goes into jail because the crime says ten years in jail was the punishment for the crime, the day that man comes out of jail, that means it’s paid. That law has no more claim on you at all, right? You’ve been in jail for ten years and now the day you walk out it’s paid, it’s gone.
Jesus Christ went into death, the wages of sin is death, and when he came up out of the grave that meant it was paid. That’s how you know it was paid. Or you can think of the resurrection as a receipt. If you’re in a department store and you buy an object, you always ask for the receipt because you’re still walking around the store. And what if a plainclothes security person stops you and says, “Excuse me, can I look in your bag, you don’t have a receipt.” See, what you really want to be able to do is if somebody stops you, you hold up your receipt and you say, “Oh, plainclothes security person, trouble me not because this proves that this has been paid for and I do not have to pay it again.” The resurrection is a giant receipt stamped across history for all people to see, that you can know that your future is certain if you believe in Jesus Christ.
The future is unimaginably wonderful
But not only that, the resurrection does not just tell you that the future is there, that’s it’s personal, that it’s certain, but also that it’s unimaginably wonderful. Here’s why.
Edgar Alan Poe’s most famous literary production, “The Raven,” is a very strange poem. It’s about a man who is bereaved and away because he’s broken up with a girl, a woman named Lenore, and he’s trying to figure out, “Can I get her back? Do I have to move on? Will I ever be happy again?” And this raven comes in and sits on the bus and keeps saying one word over and over again. You remember what the word is? Nevermore. And you know what that is? That is getting across with frightening pithiness what life is about, at least what it seems to be about, and that is the irreversibility of life. When things are gone, they’re gone and it’s seemingly irretrievable. When you’re young and then you get old, your youth seemingly is gone forever. When people die, they are irretrievable.
Kathy, during the summers for two weeks, when she was growing up, would stay at a little compound of cottages on the shores of Lake Erie. Now, the cottages are gone, in fact that part of the beach is gone. It’s all gone, and whenever she goes back there she just weeps. It’s gone, it’s irretrievable, she’ll never have that back, never get it back. And in some ways the irretrievability is sort of like a death in the midst of life. The older you get, the more it can just suck the life out of your life. The more it can suck all the joy out of your life.
But do you realize what the resurrection is? Even religions that promise you a kind of spiritual future, spiritual bliss, that’s only consolation for what you’ve lost. But the resurrection is the restoration of what you’ve lost.
You don’t just get your body back, you get the body you always wanted but you never had. You don’t just get your life back, you get the life that you always wanted that you never had. I know there are people in this church because they have been faithful, because they have said, “I’m not going to marry somebody unless that person can be a spiritual partner to me.” There are people who because they’re being faithful in that way are probably never going to get married. So what should they say, “I’ll never have that joy, I’ll never have that, I’m too old now and nobody’s going to marry me now, I’ve lost that, it’s gone.” You know what the resurrection is: Jesus Christ is walking proof that you will miss nothing. There’s going to be a wedding feast, real wine, real arms. It’ll be your wedding feast. And what about those of you who have been sort of locked in bad marriages and you’re trying to keep it together and you’re probably never going to have the great experience, you see other people walking around with great marriages, say, “Oh, I guess I’m just never going to have that, my opportunity is irretrievably gone.” No, the resurrection means you’re going to miss nothing. Nothing! It’s all coming in the future.
It’s going to be unimaginably wonderful. There is no religion, there is no faith, there is no philosophy, no one has ever offered the world this kind of future. A future that is there, it’s personal, it’s certain, and it’s unimaginably wonderful. There’s no more powerful message possible. And it’s based on the historical fact of the resurrection. If you don’t like this or that or the ethical teaching of the Bible, look at that. Don’t you want that? You have to say this to your non-Christian friends: Why wouldn’t you want that? Even if you don’t like this or that, why wouldn’t you want that? You have to want that. You’re not being honest with yourself if you don’t want that.
Conclusion: Jesus is the true King
Here’s the last thing to say. Jesus Christ twice calls himself the King. He doesn’t even refer to himself, once he says, “How foolish you are and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Twice he calls himself the Messiah. “This is what is written, the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all generations.” Isn’t it interesting that at the very end Jesus refers to himself not using the word “I,” but refers to himself as the Messiah, which is of course the King. That’s how he goes out: I am the King, I am the true King.
John Guest, a British Episcopal minister here for many years, first moved I think to this country from Britain back in the early 1970s. I think he was at a Revolutionary War museum of some sort, I think it was in Philadelphia, where he was looking at Revolutionary War memorabilia. But one of the things he noticed was a big sign that had been put up on some tavern in Philadelphia during the revolution. In big words, here’s what it said, “We serve no sovereign here,” and he realized he was in a new country. Because even Australians, Canadians, and Europeans have some positive memory of bowing the knee. Asians come from another place, they see the benefits and I think also the appropriateness of respecting authority. But we Americans, and it’s our sensibility that’s spreading throughout the world. We serve no sovereign here. We don’t bow the knee to anybody, I am an individual and I decide what is right or wrong for me. C.S. Lewis wrote a little article some years ago called “Equality” and he says, “I am absolutely in favor of democracy, absolutely, because we are all sinners.” He says, “Because we’re all sinners we need checks and balances.” But, he says, “Democracy is medicine, it’s not food. It’s medicine for what ails us but it’s not food.” He says, “Ultimate reality is not democracy because you were made to be ruled and if you don’t acknowledge Jesus as King, you will serve somebody, you will bow the knee to somebody.” You won’t admit that’s what you’re doing, but I think it’s there. Lewis says, “Human nature will be served. If it doesn’t get food it will bow to poison.” You need a king, you will serve somebody. This is your King. Obey him. That is to say, treat him as a King, do whatever he says whether you like it or not. Trust him, treat him as a King. Accept what he sends into your life whether you understand it or not. Rely on him. Don’t say you believe in Jesus but you really are getting all of your self-worth out of your career; then your career is king. Make Jesus your King and expect great things from him. He is the King.
An audio version of this resource originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition. Transcribed and used by permission from The Gospel Coalition.
Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He is also the co-founder and vice president of The Gospel Coalition. You can find more sermons by Dr. Keller at http://www.gospelinlife.com/.
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