2nd Sunday of Easter – C LSB #’s 384, 525, 469
Text – Revelation 1:8
“I am the Alpha & the Omega,” says Yahweh, the only God, the one who is & who was & who is coming, the Almighty.
THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA
There were bombings at Christian churches on Easter morning, over in Sri Lanka. Our congregation supports a missionary family in that country. Yesterday, a woman was killed & three other people injured in a shooting at a Synagogue in CA. Eight days ago was the 20th anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School.
Areas of Nebraska & Iowa sustained huge amounts of damage from flooding this spring. Looking to the international arena, Russia, China, Venezuela, North Korea & Iran each have our worst interests at heart. If you’re looking for it, there’s certainly enough bad news to go around, & bad news gets people stirred up, anxious & afraid.
In that condition, human beings start to look for help, & normally they look in the wrong places. Like King Saul, some look to psychics for answers. They hope to find what the future holds, believing it’ll help to calm their fears. It won’t be long & marijuana use will be legal in every state. Some form of gambling is legal in 48 of our states.
Then, you have the religious groups that say anything goes. Don’t worry. Be happy, but they can’t take the anxiety of sin away. Finally, to really add anxiety to people’s lives, much of the religious world does anything but comfort us. There’re many false teachers & preachers with nothing but a message of fire & brimstone. Creating even more fear is their stock in trade.
One of the chief books used for the creation of that fear is the Bible, especially the book of Revelation. Images of the black horse of death, dragons with 7 heads & 10 horns, along with stories of the Tribulation & Armageddon, are perfect material for scaring people back to God. The flaw with that theory, however, is that when the book of Revelation was written, there was no need to create additional fear. The Roman Emperors were already doing a great job, & they needed no help. Christians were being slaughtered as common policy in the Empire, & those who held on to their faith did so out of the certainty of Christ’s love for them in any situation.
Revelation was written for the comfort of God’s people in bloody circumstances when the world seemed to be coming to an end. For them, there was nowhere to run & nowhere to hide. The only way they could remain faithful to Christ under those conditions was through the patient endurance given as a gift by the Holy Spirit.
The book of Revelation was one means by which the Spirit bestowed His gifts. It’s one of the most intriguing & also misunderstood books of the Bible. Personally, I’ve found “the Alpha & the Omega” to be one of the more interesting phrases. There’s just something about “the Alpha & the Omega” that, for me, puts into words the essence of God.
Yahweh is the beginning, the end, & everything in between. Nothing in this universe exists apart from God. He has always been & will always be, yet He’s not beyond us. Our minds cannot grasp Him & still, through Christ, God lives within His children to comfort them. He is our everything. If that’s not the Alpha & the Omega, then nothing is.
The phrase sometimes refers to God the Father; at other times to God the Son. In Revelation 1:8, our Heavenly Father is speaking as He verifies the status of His Son, Jesus Christ, the Lord & Judge of all history, the human race & the world. The Son’s exalted position is now to be unfolded in the prophetic message of the mysterious book of Revelation.
The Apostle John turns around to see the voice that was speaking to him. He finds seven golden lamp stands & among them is someone like a Son of Man. The lamp stands are the church as they reveal the light of heaven to a world in darkness. The one like a Son of Man is Jesus walking among the church as He dwells within it even today. The Son is dressed in a robe reaching to His feet, draped by a golden sash. These indicate that He is our great High Priest, interceding before the Heavenly Father on our behalf, & also that Christ is our heavenly King.
The whiteness of His head & hair indicate authority & the honor & respect that we owe Him for rescuing us from eternal death. His eyes blazing like fire symbolize His authority to destroy evil & purify His people. His feet, like glowing bronze, represent strength that conquers every enemy, even death & the grave.
The voice, like the sound of rushing waters, suggests the mighty voice of God. The seven stars in His right hand represent all the human messengers of Christ’s Word to His church. The sharp double-edged sword coming from His mouth indicates that Jesus will execute the judgment of God according to His Word.
Finally, His face shining like the sun shows that the exalted Christ is the person through whom the glory & the life-giving light of God are now present. They bring light into our world of darkness. All of that, John perceived in an instant. Then, seeing the exalted Christ in all His glory, he’s completely overwhelmed & unwillingly forced down as when death strikes the body.
John could no more stand before the heavenly Christ than he could approach the sun & touch it. However, placing His right hand upon John, Jesus tells him, “Stop being afraid.” The Son of God is the eternal One, the Alpha & the Omega who has entered time & human history, in order to bring that same message to each of you, “Stop being afraid.”
Deep down, you may be feeling very alone. You may be asking, “Where is God anyway? Why doesn’t He solve my problems? Doesn’t He care?” You may feel struck down as though you are dead. But today, on the Lord’s day, the Alpha & the Omega is reaching out to touch you & bless you with words of love & peace. He is the First & the Last. Jesus is our Savior & we should no longer be afraid of what the world may do to us. Christ is the Living One. He is God who delivers His people even from the grave. For He was dead & behold, now He lives forever & ever! That One, that Son of Man, is the author & perfecter of our faith, & it is He who holds the keys of death & the grave.
From Genesis through Revelation, the message is the same. It’s God’s powerful search for you! He has come, is coming, & will come again. Our security is not determined by the stars nor the angels nor the rulers of this world, not even by ourselves. God, who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ.
The theme of Revelation is the constant & abiding presence of Christ in His church. A message that seems to come through in today’s lesson is this, “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
While many frightening images & events are spoken of in Revelation, Jesus comforts His church with the promise that, regardless of what happens, He will always protect & defend her, & keep her for Himself. The climax of Revelation is the glorious return of Christ when He will gather up His followers from all of time.
Then, He will make right all that has been wrong. Whenever life’s troubles, what we see & hear & feel, discourage us, the message of Revelation is there to remind us that life in not always what it seems. Evil may now appear to triumph, however, the Revelation to St. John shows that Christ, our Lord, will overcome & make all things new.
Then, we shall be in Paradise, with the Alpha & the Omega, for all of eternity. Amen.
Crown Him the Lord of life, Who triumphed o’er the grave & rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save. His glories now we sing, Who died & rose on high, Who died eternal life to bring, & lives that death may die. Amen. LSB 525:4.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet