Read Revelation 1
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:12-13 NLT).
As a pastor, I do a fair amount of funerals. Sometimes they are for people I know, perhaps a congregant or someone I am connected with otherwise. Other times, they are for people I don’t know at all. I will get a call from the funeral home requesting me to officiate for someone who does not have or know a pastor. Whether I know the deceased or not, I am always happy to serve in that capacity, helping families walk through the grieving process and find closure.
In every funeral I officiate, I utter these profoundly powerful words of grace, “Jesus said, I am the resurrection and I am [the] life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I hold the keys of hell and death. Because I live, you shall live also.”
What I love about those words, what I find to be so profoundly impactful about them is this: they provide the hope that ALL Christians have in Jesus Christ. One day, though our bodies may die, we will NEVER die because of the Salvific work of Christ on the cross. In those words of grace, are Scriptural quotes and promises made by God and by Jesus the Christ. All of the words are words that are uttered by God and Jesus in the Gospel of John and in the book of Revelation.
For instance, the phrase “I am the resurrection and [the] life” comes from John 11:25, when Jesus was pointing Martha to himself, letting her know that he is the RESURRECTION…and the LIFE…that he, in himself, has power over life and death. The proclamation that “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” comes from what God says in Revelation 1:8, and what Jesus says in Revelation 22:13. The proclamation, “I am the first and the last. I died and behold I am alive for evermore, and I hold the keys of hell and death”, comes from Jesus in Revelation 1:17b-18. Jesus’ proclamation, “Because I live, you shall live also”, is found in John 14:19.
What amazes me about these words is the BOLDNESS and DEFIANCE of them. They stand in the face of everything we know to be true…death is inevitable and unavoidable…and defiantly proclaim that DEATH IS A LIAR! God and Jesus tell us that they BOTH are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the last. That they hold the keys to hell and death and that death has LOST!
But how can this be? How can those words even make sense when death is such a reality in our world? Because Jesus, in his words, is reminding us of who he is. He is not just a cool guy. He’s not just a teacher. He’s not just a prophet. He’s the very CREATOR of everything that is. He’s Alpha (the first letter in the Greek Alphabet), and Omega (the last letter in the Alphabet)…describing himself through letters as the Word…the Word made flesh who lived among us (see John 1:1-5, 14) and was with God at the Beginning and who IS GOD.
Jesus proclaims that he is the Beginning and the End, not just of the Christian movement, but of all creation. “He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him” (John 1:2-3 NLT). So, yes, this Jesus, who is the Word of God and who IS GOD, can proclaim to us that DEATH IS A LIAR! Because he is the one who has conquered death. He is the ETERNAL AUTHOR OF LIFE and death has no sway on him.
Though we may perish physically, God will one day restore us to new and immortal bodies, as Paul boldly proclaims 1 Corinthians 15:53. Just as we have physical bodies now, we will one day have spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:46) and we will LIVE FOREVER with God on a newly recreated heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1-7). We have this GREAT HOPE that this current broken world may die, and our physical bodies might perish, but we who are in Christ will NEVER die. Now that, my friends is GOOD NEWS!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“[Jesus] has a right to interrupt your life. He is Lord. When you accepted Him as Lord, you gave Him the right to help Himself to your life anytime He wants.” – Henry Blackaby
Lord, I open my heart to you and your rule. Employ me in any way you see fit. Amen.
 The United Methodist Church, “A SERVICE OF DEATH AND RESURRECTION,” Discipleship Ministries, October 2, 2019, accessed December 28, 2022, https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/book-of-worship/a-service-of-death-and-resurrection