“Via this historical flashback, Luke indicates that the chronological beginning of the story goes right back to Adam, at the beginning of the human race. ….. Luke…tells us that the story begins not in the mystical beyond, but in the history of the whole human race”
It’s a reminder after the poetry and mysticism of 2nd December that there are other ways of thinking, other ways of feeling the story. That some people are moved by the feeling evoked by metaphysical language, that others of us respond more readily to the “factual” approach. It is, in effect, why Luke’s Gospel needs John’s Gospel, and why John needs Luke.
They both make the same point about salvation, about the “wholeness” of the world. They both say it started from the very very beginning. John says “In the beginning was the Word”; Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry back to Adam and to God. Salvation has always been part of this Earth we inhabit.
I find that thought hugely comforting, it seems to me to answer the question we were asked to write an essay about at Theological College – “The Cross: Illustrative or Constitutive?” Or in English… did Jesus provide some insight into an existing situation, or did his death and resurrection actually change the reality of the relationship between God and humanity? I wrote my essay like a good Anglican, and landed on Constitutive as my answer (along with Ireneus, and in line with the ‘accepted’ church position).
But I found it a puzzling question (I hope I was meant to) because I found it to be a false dichotomy. It seemed (and still seems) to me that if the Son had existed since the foundation of the world, then there is something continuous about the Cross. And yet if nothing was changed by the Cross, why bother at all? In these passages from John and from Luke, I find a rather different answer. It’s Both/And, not either/or. Salvation has always been here, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. I wish I’d had the courage to write that seven years ago. But I suppose Advent is all about waiting and discovery.