Saturday 24 December 2011

Jeff McSwain on the Incarnation in the Pastoral Epistles

Jeff McSwain, ‘The Christmas Epistles: A Most Human Understanding of Godliness’, Christianity Today (22 December 2011).

Setting up his theme, McSwain writes:

‘The event of the birth of Christ... contains all the others. Bundled in the manger is the salvation of the world. The Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension are all present implicitly in the baby Jesus, only to be unpacked over the next thirty-plus years. Far from being secondary, the Incarnation is in a very real sense our saving moment! At Christmas we can thank the Lord with Simeon: “For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30).We say this not only because we are looking backward through the Cross to the crib but also because, from the very beginning, even before Adam fell, God was looking “forward” through the crib to the Cross!’

It’s an interesting piece, interspersing lines of Christmas hymns throughout what is essentially a set of reflections on the incarnation in the pastoral epistles. As McSwain says, ‘it is in the Pastoral Epistles... that we find most profoundly this idea that salvation comes in the person of Jesus Christ, and for this reason I call these pastoral letters the Christmas Epistles’.

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