Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent of the New Beginning

Advent is a time for thinking about the new beginning God has made for the world. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each speak of this.

  • Matthew indicates the beginning of the new creation. We hear it resonate in the very first verse: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1). The Greek words behind “book of the genealogy” (biblos geneseos) are uniquely identical to the words in the Septuagint (ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament) about the “book of the genealogy” of Adam, in Genesis 5:1. In this, Matthew reminds us that Jesus the Messiah is the new Adam, and with that a new creation.
  • Mark declares the beginning of the gospel. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). The gospel is the announcement that the kingdom of God has come. And Jesus, Son of God, is the Anointed King. “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).
  • Luke tells us of the beginning of fulfillment. He writes to “set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1:1). What he is talking about are the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which were already beginning to be fulfilled in Luke’s day. He opens, most extensively of the four Gospel writers, with the events of the Christmas story, where the notes of promise and fulfillment are clearly rung in the Benedictus (the song of Zechariah, in Luke 1:68-79) and the Magnificat (the song of Mary, in Luke 1:46-55).
  • John proclaims the beginning of God in the flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). This is the beginning of the mystery of godliness. “Beyond all question,” Paul says, “the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16 NIV). This mystery opens with the Word made flesh and proceeds all the way to King Jesus being “taken up in glory,” where He is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, with all authority given to Him in heaven and on earth.
The beginning of new creation, of the gospel, of the divine promises fulfilled and of God come in the flesh are not four different beginnings but four different ways of speaking about the ultimate new beginning God has brought into the world—indeed, it is the fulfillment of Creation, of humankind created in the image of God. In the season of Advent, we remember that beginning, and we celebrate it during the twelve days of Christmas, even as we wait for the return of King Jesus.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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