Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Portraits of Jesus: Alpha & Omega Basics

We last left John totally freaked out and on his face before Jesus. I’m not going to blame him. Now let’s see how Jesus responds.

Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1.17b-18
Don’t fear!? Are you kidding me? He is told to not fear because Jesus is the First and the Last, if we’re going alphabetically, we’re looking at A to Z – or Alpha & Omega in Greek. There’s a progression of this name that bookends this challenging and exciting book that shows us the Trinitarian reality that Jesus and the Father are different persons, but both fully, eternally God.
o Rev. 1.8 – The Father is Alpha & Omega
o Rev. 1.17 – Jesus is the First & Last (what we just read)
o Rev. 21.6 – The Father is the Alpha & Omega, Beginning & the end
o Rev. 22.13 – Jesus is the Alpha & Omega, First & Last, Beginning & End

This is the key question today: “What does it mean to be the Alpha & Omega?”

  1. He’s eternal. My girls love baby Jesus, but the Second of the Person of the Trinity, the Son, is eternal, not just 2000 years old – that’s just when He took on flesh. This Jesus participated in creation (Col. 1; Jn. 1). That’s the Alpha, or A, since there’s nothing prior. He was there at the beginning. He created the beginning.

  2. He's sovereign. We aren’t just looking at A and Z here. The point of this image is that He is A to Z, not just A and Z. He’s not a watchmaker God who winds things up and meets us when it’s all over. Col. 1 tells us Jesus holds the world together. He’s in control of this world and intimately involved – even if it may not seem like it sometimes.

  3. He’s the source and point of history. He is the beginning of history, but He’s also the point. It culminates in Him and the glorification of the Son for eternity as He dwells with His people eternally.

This is why Jesus, as intimidating as He might have been to John, could make sense when He said, “Don’t fear.” Because John is in exile and persecution has come to some parts of the church and the heat upon the church is just starting. While Jesus should in some ways make our knees knock, we need not fear because He is for us.

My hope with this series of posts is that we would cultivate a greater reverence, a sense of awe at the person of Jesus – like John did. We’re going to do it with a little survey of Revelation. If you’ve read Revelation, you k now it’s pretty crazy. I haven’t had the guts to teach it. But today, just for you … both readers of my blog … I still don’t have the guts for it.

We are going to step back today and look at Revelation in light of what it tells us about Jesus. We may want to pore over the text to find out who the ten horns of the beast should be identified as or wonder about 666 or the mark, but if we do that we can easily miss the really important focus on Jesus who stands as sovereign in the midst of apparent chaos.

Revelation was written to suffering churches that, more than past stories or distant prophecies of the future, needed a picture of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Same for us.

Revelation has plenty of portraits within it (check out John Stott's The Incomparable Christ), but we’re just going to look at how Jesus in Revelation contributes to the picture of the exalted Alpha & Omega, the A to Z.

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