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ADVENT from Gordon Conwell Seminary

December 13, 2009

Gordon Conwell Seminary faculty are sending out brief, insightful, daily Advent devotionals. Here is one from one of my mentors, Sean McDonough:

The vision of Jesus in Revelation Chapter 1 might seem like an odd place to find inspiration for a Christmas meditation. What could this terrifying sword-tongued, star-holding figure have to do with the innocent baby in the manger?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. It is made especially clear in Jesus’ description of himself in vv.17-18: “I am the first and the last and the living one, and I became dead, and behold I am living forever and ever.” The heart of the Christmas message is that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. That Jesus shares the divine identity – that he is who God is – is made clear in the remarkable three-fold formula, “I am the first and the last and the living one.” This is a deliberate echo of the description of God himself in Rev. 1:4, “I am the One who is, and who was, and who is to come.” Likewise, “I am living forever and ever” recalls the familiar Old Testament phrase “the living God.”

But the little interlude between those two formulas turns out to be even more remarkable, as we learn what it means for God to be with us in the fullest sense: “I became dead.” Richard Bauckham captures the paradox in this way: “His eternal livingness was interrupted by the experience of a human death, and he shares the eternal life of God through triumph over death.” (Theology of the Book of Revelation, p.56). Emmanuel, indeed.

Sign up to receive GCTS Advent emails here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sara permalink
    December 13, 2009 11:59 am


  2. December 18, 2009 2:01 pm

    Thanks for this. I have been following their blog a bit, “every thought captive”.

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