Renewal, or a new beginning, is important to us all. The gospels, viewed at once in their beginnings, affirm a kind of beginning that is in the process of realization. Matthew has a genealogy in the first chapter, and the sense of the genealogy is really “genesis,” or origins. In the second chapter he has Jesus’ birth and infancy account, also beginnings. Mark emphasizes “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1; all quotes from NRSV). Luke, after his introduction, begins with, “In the days of King Herod,” as if to say, “once upon a time,” and then he launches into a striking account of Jesus’ birth. John’s gospel actually begins with the words, “In the beginning” (1:1), and then the dramatic statement, “And the word became flesh and lived among us” (1:14), which is John’s expression of Jesus’ birth and beginnings with us.
These are not simple literary devices for the gospel writers, for they alert us to a dramatic announcement that creation began again. Jesus was the unique, in-breaking of God’s rule in history. The gospel writers stressed beginnings since with Jesus something new happened that began a different history for humankind. The end of the old order had come, or its end had begun, and the new was upon them. Its beginning was as significant and markedly unique as the creation itself. Jesus came to create all of creation anew, including us. He is the New Covenant (Testament). In him is the new life and the true life, the new creation and God’s rule breaking in upon us in Jesus Christ. His new is all inclusive (Matt. 28:18: ‘“And Jesus said to them, all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me’”). If we are of Jesus, his disciples, we are always living in the new and renewal always is offered.