Omega and Alpha: Jesus, the Center of Christian Faith

El Montecito Presbyterian Church
December 2012
Telford Work, Westmont College

I. Jesus Christ Is the End and the Beginning...
Jesus is the alpha and omega of all things (Revelation 1:8, 22:13), not just chronologically but logically.
Sin attempts to usurp God as creation's center and goal.
Redemption inverts our inversion:
Jesus becomes the end of the old and frustrated,
and the beginning of the new and intended.
"I died, and behold I live" (Revelation 1:17-18): Jesus is the hinge on whom the ages have turned (1 Corinthians 10:11).
An imperfect analogy for Americans is the Constitution of the United States:
It is the result of royal abuse and confederate failure.
It is more an ending and beginning than a middle.
It closes all earlier events and births all subsequent ones.
It focuses and defines American history like no other event, even 1776.
It has become the object of ultimate American loyalty.
It embodies who we are as a people.
Similar analogies for other communities include the Exodus/Torah and the Hejira/Qur'an.
Some communities — e.g., pagans — have no one turning point.
The story of Jesus is constitutive of Christian faith, "making all things new" (Revelation 21:5).
Evidence of this astonishing awareness permeates the earliest Christian witness.
A question for Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas, or any other time:
What is the fundamental hinge and identifier of your life?
II. ... of God
A false prophet and a blasphemer?
No, God-with-us (Colossians 1, John 1), uniting God and creation.
A stumbling block and foolishness?
No, the crucified power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-31), reconciling all things.
The beloved heir of the Father (Romans 8:14-17, 29),
and the loving giver of the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23, Acts 2).
Are you a member of his Triune fellowship?
III. ... of the Cosmos
Subject to the creation's futility (Romans 8:17-28),
Lord at the Father's right hand (Romans 8:31-34).
The redeemer of the old creation (2 Corinthians 5:1-17),
and the firstfruits of the new creation (1 Corinthians 15:20-24).
The one by whom all things were made (John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6),
and the one in whom all things come together (Colossians 1:16-17).
Are you alert to the signs of his reign?
IV. ... of Humanity
The rejected enemy of the old order (Luke 5:33-39),
and the center of a new and eternal order (Acts 10:34-43).
Rejected by people (1 Peter 2:4),
yet immortal intercessor forever (Hebrews 7:23-28).
Snubber and destroyer of family loyalties (Luke 14:26, 12:49-53, Genesis 2:24a in Ephesians 5:31-32),
and universal adoptive sponsor and bridegroom (Ephesians 1:5, Luke 18:28-30, Gen 2:24b in Eph 5:31-32).
The taker of sin and death (Romans 8:2b, 5:12-21),
and the bringer of righteousness and eternal life (Romans 8:2a, 5:1-11).
The last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45, cf. 1 Timothy 1:4, Hebrews 7:3, Matthew 23:9),
and the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:45-49, cf. Daniel 7:13).
Is he your brother and your hope?
V. ... of Israel
Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52-53 in Acts 8:30-35 and Romans 10:5-17),
and anointed Messiah (Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:16-30, Isaiah 59:21 in Romans 11:26-27).
Eternal son of David in the flesh (Romans 1:3, Matthew 1:17, Matthew 2),
and designated risen Son of God in power (Romans 1:4, Matthew 27:54, 28:16-20).
The Chosen (and rejected) One of Israel (Luke 9:18-36, Galatians 6:12),
and the head of "the Israel of God" (Acts 7:51-56, Galatians 6:15-16).
The goal of the Law and the Prophets [and Old Testament] (Matthew 4:12-16, 5:17-20),
and the author of the Good News [in New Testament] (Matthew 4:17 cf. Mark 1:15, Matthew 7:28-29).
Do you share his mission and bear his marks?
VI. ... of the Nations
Victim of the nations' oppression (Revelation 1:7),
and King of Kings (Psalm 2 in Luke 3:21-22 and Hebrews 5:1-5, Revelation 1:5).
Destroyer of their idolatry (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10, Revelation 17-18),
and surety of their treasure (Revelation 21:22-27).
Disarmer of the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:8-15),
and new human being of cultural inclusion (Ephesians 2:11-22).
Object of their rulers' scorn (1 Peter 2:11-17, Revelation 5:9-12),
and object of their eternal worship (1 Peter 2:12, Revelation 7:9-10).
Do you bow down to him, or only to the god of your own tribe?
VII. ... of a Life
Obedient and self-sacrificing servant,
with the name above all names (Philippians 2:5-11).
Baptized (ended) by John,
and baptizer (giver of life) with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12).
My judge (Matthew 25),
and my commissioner (Matthew 28:16-20).
Foreknown and predestined,
and the first of many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:28-30).
The ultimate threat to my own righteousness (Luke 15:11-32),
yet its only real security (Acts 9).
Pioneer of our own deaths
and resurrections (Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:20-3:17).
Good but stricken shepherd (Revelation 7:17, John 10:1-18, 13:12-20),
and sharer of his throne (Revelation 3:20-22, John 14:12, 15:16, 20:23).
Is your life baptismal, dead and risen, Christ-shaped?