Implications of the Word, Pt. 6
The Alpha and Omega
Study Guide, August 27, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
There is a bridge in a town in Austria that has twelve statues of Jesus. The interesting thing about it all is that these statues represent Jesus in His various relationships with His people; like He is represented as a prophet, a priest, a king, a physician, a sea captain, a shepherd, a carpenter… And so people coming in or out of this town in Austria, either before or after work, pause before these replicas and think of Jesus’ in His various ministries to them. Like, the farmer thinks of Jesus as his Shepherd throughout the day, or the artisan thinks of Jesus as his Master Carpenter…the sailor thinks of Jesus as his Captain and pilot over the waters, and the hurting think of Jesus as their Great Physician, and so on.1 But quite amazing symbols of our Lord Jesus as being our all-sufficient God and Savior.
And how fascinating that God Himself has throughout the Scriptures given various titles and identities to Himself describing the many aspects of His character and His ministries to His people and His sovereignty over the world. For example, here are just a few of these wondrous identities of Jesus.
*’The Bread of Life’: “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life…” John 6:33-35 NASU So Jesus is the staple of our soul; the very ‘bread’ that sustains our eternal life. I have a little motto of mine that I think about. It’s this: “My Bread of life is my Salvation in Jesus: the rest of my life is gravy.” It’s rather simple….but you get the idea.
*’The Vine’: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jn 15:5-6 NASU This is not only an identity of Jesus, but as we have pointed out many times, the passage also includes an essential identity for us: we are at most and at best, ‘branches’ of the Vine. We are not the source, nor the solution, nor the sufficiency for anything of lasting value and eternal good. No, that source is Jesus Christ, our Vine, and we are the channels, the branches for bearing the fruit which has lasting value and eternal good. And this fruit is borne in our lives as the Lord works in and through us, as we abide in Him in our worship and service. And how about that last part that Jesus said? It sort of settles it all and puts everything in perspective about whatever is of lasting value and of eternal good. “…for apart from Me you can do…what…Nothing.” That pretty much clarifies our complete need of Jesus’ Lordship and leadership over everything we do. Jesus didn’t say, ‘apart from Me you can do a few things of lasting value, or He didn’t say, ‘apart from Me you can do some things of eternal good…’ No, He said, ‘apart from Me you can do NOTHING’. Or, as for any disciple trying to live out his or her family life, or business life, or social life, or anything else, apart from looking to Jesus and His Word for instruction and guidance and in then living in obedience to Jesus in it all…well, as we would put it: “Don’t even think about it!” Without surrendering to the control of Christ’s Lordship over you and the guidance of Christ’s Spirit within you…whatever you are trying to do or build or accomplish in your life adds up to exactly what Jesus said it would: “NOTHING”. Without Jesus in the center of your life, the center of your work, the center of your world…you can do ‘NOTHING’…nothing of lasting value and eternal good. That’s a hard lesson for living, but it’s a solid foundation on which to build your life. Plus, it’s the difference between building your life upon the rock or building your life upon the sand…lasting value and eternal good—-or…’nothing’.
*Here’s another identity Jesus revealed about Himself: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11:25-26 NASU Again, Jesus reveals that He alone has the power to raise people from the dead because He alone is the very source of ‘life’! And Jesus also revealed that there is not just one death to consider in life, but two. However, He states that for those who believe in Jesus, meaning, receive Him as their Lord and Savior, even if they die they will never die. Say what? Jesus revealed that even if a person dies physically, since they have believed/received Him and His gift of eternal life they will never die spiritually. Christ did that for us, for all who receive Him as Savior.
Actually, it’s that great salvation verse of John 3:16 that reveals that spiritual death is technically known as ‘perishing’. As in, “…whosoever believeth in Him shall not ‘perish‘, but have everlasting life.” To ‘perish’ is to be spiritually and physically separated from your Creator for eternity. Why? Because you did not believe in…did not receive the Savior of your life into your life. Do you remember that great clarifying statement about this? ‘Born once – die twice…Born twice – die once.’ Each person needs to be Born Again…to have their spirit re-born in union with Christ. For that is the only way to not die twice; physically and spiritually. Unless the Lord Jesus comes soon for His church, and we pray that it is soon, then although we will face a physical death, re-born children of God already possess eternal spiritual life in Christ.
Now then, we come to another identity that Jesus gives Himself that pretty much says it all. And it says it all because it covers it all. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8 NASU Oh my! And how can skeptical and unbelieving people think they can suppose that Jesus never claimed to be God??? Jesus absolutely claimed to be God and did so many times over. The book of Revelation even begins with: “This is the revelation of Jesus Christ”. And then Jesus says, ‘I am the Alpha and Omega. I am the Lord God who is and who was and who is to come. I am the Almighty.’ You can’t get any more ‘deity’ than that!
Now, Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Hebrews also had the same saying about God as being ‘the first and the last’. In fact, when Jesus made this statement to the Apostle John in about 90 A.D., or ‘Anno Domini’…’In the year of our Lord’, He had already made this statement to the Prophet Isaiah around 700 B.C.
And, just a side note here, when you think about it, that abbreviation, B.C., ‘Before Christ’, should actually be B.J., ‘Before Jesus’, because ‘Jesus’ is the name referring to the humanity of our Lord, and ‘Christ’ is the name referring to the deity of our Lord. Yes, The title of ‘Christ’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’. But remember, the Son was spiritually ‘appointed’ as the Christ, the Messiah, in eternity past, before He was physically ‘anointed’ as Messiah when He came. And since our Lord Christ is eternal, that means that there never was a time that was ‘Before Christ’, since Christ always was and is and is to come. But there was a time before our Lord Christ took on our humanity in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. And so, our Gregorian calendar ought to list the years as being either ‘B.J.’ or ‘A.D.’, ‘Before Jesus’ and then ‘In the year of our Lord’. That would just make things a lot clearer, as well as help the world understand that Christ was fully God before He ever became fully human…becoming thus, God incarnate: both God and Man.
(That’s just a little personal concern of mine there…)
But notice what our Lord Christ said to Isaiah before He later said it to John as our Lord Jesus Christ: Isa 44:6-8- “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'” NASU
The Hebrew for ‘first’ and ‘last’ is ‘ri’shown’ and acharown’ and this phrase as applied to our Lord carries with it the sense of not only first in existence in time, but also of having preeminence in rank. So we can understand why Isaiah goes on to say of our one and only God that He is also ‘high and lifted up’ in glory. Plus, here in Isaiah, in the midst of this awe inspiring reality of God’s eternal majesty, God also assures His people of His divine care for them – ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid’. As God loved His people in eternity past He will love His people through the present and right on into eternity future. He’s talking about us here, too, you know. He is our ‘Rock’ of salvation, our ‘Rock’ of security, our ‘Rock’ of rest and peace. In fact, He is our ‘Alpha and Omega’ of our entire life!
Think about it: Since Jesus is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, then Jesus is also everything in between. For example: when the creatures of Earth think about creation, all are to realize that Jesus is the Alpah and Omega of Creation. The story of creation is the story of the Creator. Creation itself is all about Christ. Col 1:16-17- “For by Him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” NIV
As I was watching a documentary on the Sun last week, in connection with that amazing ‘Eclipse’, the narrator was describing the solar flares that come off of the Sun and blast away at the Earth. And he said that these flares would completely scorch our Earth if it wasn’t for these remarkable magnetic fields that are set up around the Earth that act like a shield or a force field protecting life on our planet. And then he just went on, like, ‘Lucky us, huh?
No, once again, creation itself is telling the creatures of the Earth how all of these amazing things, like the Earth’s magnetic fields, could have only been ‘set up’ by a Caring Personal Creator…a Creator who planned to protect all life on Earth because He had a plan for all life on Earth! Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of Creation.
Another example of so many people’s lack of humility toward God is how people completely miss the central tenet of the Bible. Many people who do not want to have to bow to the authority of the Bible over their lives try to make some claim that the Bible was written by many different authors who were simply writing about their own religious ideas and opinions about the religions of Judaism and Christianity. How strange that they say that when the fact is that the Bible doesn’t have many authors; No, the Bible only has ‘one author’ with simply many ‘transcribers’. And let’s note this from the Amplified Version to make it very clear: 2 Peter 1:20-21- “First [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture (message of the prophets) is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving). For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so — it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit.”AMP
Mark that down because so many need to understand that the Bible has ‘one author’, God. God the Holy Spirit is the author of the entire Old and New Testaments, who used a variety of men to record God’s revelation to all who inhabit His created Earth. Not men, but God is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last author of the Scriptures.
And then let’s go back to that Colossians passage, because the Apostle Paul reveals something else about our Lord Jesus. Col 1:18- “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” NASU
Some of you may remember the song ‘He’s Everything to Me’. The lyrics speak about all that Jesus is to you and to me. “…Till by faith I met Him face to face, and I felt the wonder of His grace,Then I knew that He was more than just a God who didn’t care,
That lived a way out there and, Now He walks beside me day by day,
Ever watching o’er me lest I stray, Helping me to find the narrow way,
He’s Everything to me.”
Jesus is the ‘beginning and the end’; the ‘first and the last’. And the powerful implication of this is that Jesus is to be ‘first’ in everything in our lives all the way through to the last of our lives. And just like Creation is based upon order, your life and my life is also based upon order, and is to then be set in order by us under God’s leadership. Much of the angst and undo stress and conflicts and so on that drain life and detract from the peace and joy and fruit of the spirit from growing in our lives is due to ‘dis-order’ in our lives. There is a place for everything in our lives, but none of it is ‘first place’. That place, ‘first place’, has been reserved for the Creator and Redeemer of our lives. Like the old saying about Christ being your ‘co-pilot’: “If Christ is your co-pilot, then you’re in the wrong seat!”
Jesus Christ has a reserved seat on the throne of our lives. Concerning our highest devotion…that place has been reserved for Christ alone. Concerning what authority is to command our greatest allegiance…that place has been reserved for Christ alone. Concerning our who leads in our decision making about all of our responsibilities and opportunities that we have in our lives…that place has been reserved for Christ alone. Concerning who has the right to rule our spirit and direct our paths… that place has been reserved for Christ alone. For Jesus Christ is not only the Alpha and Omega of the world, He is the Alpha and Omega ‘of our world’. He is to be the first and the last and everything in between as we live out our lives in preparation to meet our King!
1. T. R. Stevenson, The Biblical Illustrator, Revelation 1:8