"Christ, the Alpha and Omega, Christ, the firstborn from the dead, Christ, the life and resurrection, Christ, the Church's glorious head: Praise and thanks and adoration and unending worship be To the Father and the Spirit and to You eternally."
Surrounded as we are by images on screens, we may not give much thought, if any, to the letters of the alphabet. As children we learned the letters, those lines and shapes that designate sounds and, when properly put together, form words. Histories, stories and songs, poems, letters, and legal documents are all written with alphabet letters.
Our hymn verse singles out two letters from Scripture, Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Those two letters help to spell out the story of our salvation. In His revelation to the apostle John, the Lord uses those two letters to name Himself. "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'" (Revelation 1:8). When John falls at Jesus' feet, Jesus reaches down to reassure His apostle, telling him: "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:17b-18).
The Son of God was in the beginning, the Word by whom all things were created. At the appointed time, the Word became flesh and His Name is spelled out with letters we have come to love: Jesus. To opponents who challenged His claims and His authority, Jesus responded with the challenge of another name for Himself, a name of only a few letters: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Jesus is I AM, the God who saved the people of Israel from slavery, the Word in human flesh who saved us from bondage to sin and death.
On Good Friday, a few letters spelled out another identity for the Lord. Sometimes we see it written as "I.N.R.I," Latin initials for "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," the sign posted on the Savior's cross. Jesus died and was the first to rise from death, never to die again. His story was written down in words and letters "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name" (John 20:31b). For us, Jesus is the beginning and the end, the first and the last and everything in between. Jesus, the beginning, will be there at the end, when He returns to judge the living and the dead. On that day there will be no need for letters to spell out "The End," because for us and all creation, it will be a new beginning.
WE PRAY: Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, You are everything to me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Christ, the Word of God Incarnate," which is number 540 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Have you ever tried learning another language? Which one and why? Did you like it?
2. Jesus was identified by four Latin letters on His cross. How significant is this inscription?
3. What would be appropriate as an epitaph for your tombstone? Why?
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