‘I Am’: The First and the Last

Alpha. Omega.

The Beginning. The Ending.

The First. The Last.

These were words Jesus used to describe Himself. Notice the use of the definite article “the” before some of these words. This article is one of limitation, a narrowing word in its work as a modifier. The placing of “the” is indicative and points out the specific and exclusive nature of the subject.

The message was this:  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; there is none like Him.

When He talked of His identity, Jesus spoke with clarity and definition — always. There was and is an only-ness about Him. He let this be known in certain terms, lest some fall for deceptions that lead to misunderstanding and disaster. And it’s something we need to grasp perhaps now more than ever. If we listen to and read the things Jesus said about who He is, this can help us to discover Him as ever faithful and ever true.

Alpha. Omega.

The Beginning. The Ending.

The First. The Last.

Jesus uses these words toward the end of our Bibles, in the early part of the book of Revelation. These words were sounded out loudly and in waves. In Revelation 1, the visions communicated to John reveal the aged Apostle hearing “a great voice, as of a trumpet” and as “the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:10, 14).

The sound of a trumpet is a sound that pierces the atmosphere. It cuts through the air and arrests our attention, like the sound of the horn blown by an ambulance or fire truck on its way to an emergency. Jesus spoke and what He said could not be ignored. His words, John wrote, poured forth from Him. They flooded the scene with an ocean of Truth.

Ready to Hear

John was in exile. The Roman authorities banished him to the Isle of Patmos, which was sort of an Alcatraz-like chunk of land positioned in the Aegean Sea off the coast near the city of Ephesus in what is now part of modern Turkey.

Did these circumstances stop John from following after the Lord? They did not. The Revelation he would record in writing came to him first while he was “in the Spirit on the Lords day.”

Living by the leading of the Spirit and according to established worship patterns, John put himself in position to hear from the Lord. He made sure his mind and heart were available to the move of God. Click To Tweet

Let us make note of these two important pieces of information. No matter what situations we are facing we can live in the Holy Spirit and honor the Lords day. And we could say that for us as believers in Him every day is a Lords day.

John is likely talking about a Sunday when this trumpet sound was heard by him.  Surely, it was his practice to gather and worship with other believers on this day.  The early church began to set aside Sunday after the Ascension of Jesus as a way of honoring the memory of His Resurrection.

Living by the leading of the Spirit and according to established worship patterns, John put himself in position to hear from the Lord. He made sure his mind and heart were available to the move of God.

Always Present

Jesus emphasized the reality of His eternal being again and again. He is, was, and always will be God the Son. All things begin with Him, all things end with Him, He is all and in all, He is timeless, He is from everlasting to everlasting, from eternity to eternity.

We have to embrace the always present nature of God. These words in Revelation were nothing new in terms of defining Him.

The Lord introduced Himself this same way to Moses at the burning bush. The name He put forth was “I Am that I Am” or Yahweh:  “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and He said, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, I Am has sent me unto you” (see Exodus 7:14).

During His public ministry, Jesus made several “I Am” declarations. He wanted His hearers to be certain about who He claimed to be. His many signs and wonders were done to complement the words He spoke. Those things were never attempts to prove His identity.

On the Cross, Jesus was challenged to work a miraculous deliverance for Himself; He was called to come down so that He might be believed. He refused to take the bait. He understood the nature of man and sin. The Cross answered these issues. Jesus experienced life as a human, and in dying as a human, He defeated the curse of death. He was in the midst of a war that had been waged over the ages. He triumphed and finished the work of salvation, atonement, and redemption.

Alpha. Omega.

The Beginning. The Ending.

The First. The Last.

What had its beginning in Jesus also had its ending in Jesus. We are saved because of what He did as the Lamb of God, the One destined to be slain from the foundation of the world (see Revelation 13:8).

The ‘I Am’ and Us

John heard and saw Jesus in His glory. This put the Apostle on his face.

Here we read of the ministry of the gentle and Good Shepherd and His care for one of His sheep:  “And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last:  I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Jesus, the First of all things and of all beings, identified with the Last. It is as if the I Am said, “I Am as you are” – I am the First and the Last. He came meek and lowly of heart. The King of kings taught with His words and with His life that real blessedness comes to those who are poor in spirit, to those who are meek, to those who are persecuted, reviled, and abused (see Matthew 6:1-12).

Through His death and resurrection, the Last could become the First because we are made members of the Body of Christ of which Jesus is the Head. The First and the Last are brought together in Him, never to be forgotten or forsaken.

This is an eternal reality accomplished by the Son. It is something we should rest in, meditate upon, and hold fast in our hearts.

We have to learn ever more to see Jesus as who He said He is – the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only One who could bring us into the Presence of the Father, according to John 14:6.

We have been given a Gospel mission to tell of Him in all nations. All are to hear of Him as He is:

Alpha. Omega.

The Beginning. The Ending.

The First. The Last.

And as we go to tell these truths, we have another everlasting promise that He spoke to His disciples:

Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Andrulonis
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