Alpha and Omega

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What is the book of Revelation?  Christian psychedelia?  Religio-political prognostication?  End-of-the-world prophecy?

In chapter 1 we see that it’s a letter from John based on visions of Christ.

“I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia.”  (Revelation 1:9-11)

John is in tribulation as he writes – imprisoned on the island of Patmos due to his Christian witness.  Yet tribulation is precisely the point at which we find our deepest fellowship with Jesus.  And here John has a vision of Christ – an “apocalypse”, (meaning revelation).

Appropriately enough, the very first way in which Jesus describes Himself is: “Alpha and Omega.”  The phrase comprises the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and, according to the KJB, it comes four times in Revelation (1:8,11; 21:6; 22:13).  You could update the saying to mean something like “I am the A to Z of reality.”  Let’s think about what it means for Jesus to be Alpha and Omega.

Alpha

At key points the Lord Jesus is described as the “First” or the “Beginning.” (Isaiah 48:12; Proverbs 8:22; Colossians 1:18).  Eternally at the right hand of the Father, Jesus is that primordial Other who is Himself the rationale for everything else other than God.  As the Father’s eternal Counterpart, Jesus becomes, in time, the Alpha, the First, the Beginning, the Way out from God into a whole universe of others.  By the Spirit, the Father’s outgoing life radiates in and through Jesus.  Therefore Jesus defines and shapes all else.  Nothing makes sense without Jesus, “the Alpha.”

Omega

Isaiah could not describe the LORD Jesus as “the first” without calling Him “the last” (Isaiah 48:12).  Colossians could not call Him “the beginning” without saying He is “the Firstborn”, meaning Heir.  (Colossians 1:18).  And Revelation can never call Him “Alpha” without also calling Him “Omega”.

It’s not just that all things come from Christ, they are also destined for Him.  Redemption is not the salvation of creation towards another goal.  It is the bringing of all things back to their true Source and Meaning.  We are made by Christ and headed for Christ.  In this way, God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

What place does Jesus have in your thinking?  It seems to me that there are many ways in which we diminish the Person of Christ.

Perhaps we begin our thinking about God without Jesus, imagining an essentially christless doctrine of God onto which we add a Jesus-gloss.

Perhaps we begin our reading of the Bible without Jesus, imagining an essentially unitarian God in the Old Testament, to which Messiah is later added.

Perhaps we begin our understanding of the world without Jesus, imagining an essentially neutral and non-Christian world, to which Christ is an added extra.

Let’s reclaim the true meaning of repentance (that is, to change ones mind).  I know for myself that I do not think highly enough of Jesus.  Yet if we saw Him correctly we would know that we cannot think highly enough of Jesus.

Therefore let’s determine to repent: to begin and end all our thinking with Jesus: the Alpha and the Omega.

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