The Son of God, Without Beginning
Of all the Gospel accounts, Mark is the one that seemingly would offer us no material upon which meditate concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God. Both Matthew and Luke offer infancy narratives. John gives us explicit pre-incarnate information. Mark however, starts with what seems to be a mere assertion, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1) Yet in those words I believe Mark does, in fact, speak to us of the divine Son incarnate for our salvation. This is done by showing that Jesus appears, not as becoming, but rather instantly, as the Son of God – and this, without beginning.
The Son of God Without Genealogy
Soon after Abram (later Abraham) had been called by God (Genesis 12:1-9), having already escaped trouble in Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20) he found himself at war with enemy forces who had captured part of his family (Genesis 14:1-16) who were living in Sodom at the time. Having defeated his enemies, the king of Sodom came to pay homage to Abram for his victory. “After [Abram’s] return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).” (Genesis 14:17)
After the Sodomite king came Melchizedek, king of Salem. Rather than pay homage to Abram, he gives him a blessing. “And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” (Genesis 14:19a) In response, “Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:20b)
When establishing the superiority of the New Covenant priesthood over the Old Covenant, Hebrews 7 draws on this very incident. “Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed [Abraham], and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.” (Hebrews 7:1-2a) Hebrews 7 goes on to show that even his name and title speak to his identity. “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. (Hebrews 7:2b) What follows becomes important to our discussion. “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.”
Not only does Hebrews 7 draw truth from Melchizedek’s name and title, but also his appearing, as it were, from nowhere. And that appearing from nowhere resembles the Son of God. Hebrews 7 teaches that what we see as a shadow in Melchizedek is grounded in the reality of the Son of God. It is the Son of God who truly comes, as it were, from nowhere. This is not lost on Mark.
This Son of God cannot merely be the eternal plan of God to bring a Son into existence later via Mary the Virgin because in this sense being the Son means being, “without father or mother or genealogy”. This Son of God cannot merely be one of the sons of God in the angelic sense because in this sense, being the Son means not, “having… beginning of days.” What man after Adam can be said to have no genealogy? Only the Man from Heaven. (John 3:13) Who can be said to have no beginning, not only among humans, but even among the angelic hosts? None, because only God possesses eternality by nature. As understood in Hebrews 7, Jesus the Son of God is God the Eternal Son in the flesh. The Son of God, as the Son, is eternal – Co-Eternal with the Father. This is the same understanding Mark has and he seeks to show it with his abrupt beginning.
The Son of God Eternally Begotten
One of the main Messianic Psalms that that New Testament quotes from is Psalm 2. Utilizing Psalm 2, when the Davidic king was installed as king, he was anointed with oil and declared therefore, as a covenantal son to God. As it is written, “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” (Psalm 2:7) Yet, the New Testament writers also pick up, even from the original context, the timelessness of the statement. That is to say, while the time of installment is certainly in view for David, such is not a restriction on the decree, begetting, and the “today” of God. God can give that same decree at any time.
Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, is begotten of God in the flesh at his birth (or even at conception). (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35) Yet, this is not ever the context in which we find reference to Psalm 2 in the New Testament. The Sonship and begetting of God is applied to Jesus in connection with his resurrection and subsequent ascension and enthronement in heaven as king. [God] has fulfilled to us [the promises he made to the Patriarchs] by raising Jesus [from the dead], as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13:33) Not only do we see that Jesus as his resurrection is declared as Son, but also at his baptism (Mark 1:11) and Transfiguration (Mark 9:7). Throughout Jesus ministry he himself demonstrates his Sonship to God as Father (Mark 8:38, 13:32, 14:36). It is improper then to merely link Jesus begotten status to him simply in his incarnation from Mary. When linked to the understanding that the Son of God has no genealogy, no beginning of days, the instant appearing of Jesus as the Son of God in Mark’s Gospel then echoes in the biblical statement, “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Concerning Jesus, the decree that he is the Son of God is eternal. The Son of God is eternally begotten because the “today” of God is eternal.
The Son of God Eternally Begotten & Without Genealogy
Mark, in opening without genealogy, without beginning of days, and declaring that Jesus is the Son of God, is informing us who Jesus already was in his Incarnation. What Moses and David do literarily in regards to Melchizedek and the Davidic king, Mark takes up both literarily and literally about Jesus. Jesus in Mark then is the eternal Son of God who has, in the fullness of time, taken on flesh to become the priest forever to whom Melchizedek had originally pointed! And it is in that priesthood, that Jesus offers up the acceptable sacrifice to the Father that can finally take away sins (Hebrews 10:4-10).
As the Nativity Canon, Song 3, Irmos hymns, Jesus is, “the Son who was born of the Father before all ages, and in this latter day was made incarnate of the Virgin without seed; Christ our God.” Glory to Him who without beginning began his days on earth in Bethlehem! Glory to him who though Eternally Begotten of God has made the Virgin a Mother by making her womb his throne! Christ is born! Glorify him!