Today I want to tell you about a talk I heard once called Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end; the first and the last.. I want to give you some of the message of that talk, and give you my reaction to it, and what effect it had on me. A certain man was called on suddenly to speak, and although accustomed to theological rhetoric, he was caught short with no forewarning, no notes or references, not even a Bible to lean on. Without hesitation, he began, "Jesus spoke of himself by that phrase, I am the alpha and omega. So what’s in a name?", quoting Shakespeare. "Very much indeed when one calls oneself the alpha and omega. How could Jesus make that claim about himself?" Our speaker suggested the answer lay in all the other names by which Jesus is called. He then began reviewing the many names or phrases applied to Jesus, with appropriate asides as to where the names were found and in what context, sometimes reciting a whole passage from memory; they surfaced readily to his mind: the word–son of God–son of man–seed of the woman–second Adam–seed of Abraham–seed of David–son of David–branch of righteousness–Lord our righteousness–redeemer–resurrection and the life–heir of the world–heir of all things.
The speaker paused over the name Son of David, and quoted a half dozen verses from Matthew 22. 43 - 45, to prove that Jesus was more than just the seed of David, an accepted belief of the Jews. Jesus said to the Pharisees, who earlier had sought to trap him and asked them who Christ was and whose son he was. If he is David’s son, why does he (David) call him Lord, for in Psalm 110 he says (by inspiration) , "The LORD (God) said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, til I make thine enemies thy footstool." Here, of course, God is speaking of the Messiah. If David then called him Lord, how is he his son? The Pharisees had no answer , and dared not ask him anymore questions. The speaker then digressed to recite Psalm 22 and part of the 16. (v.7 - 11), the first a portrayal of the lamb of God, the second the son of God’s belief in the promises of his Father.
The heir of all things–here he recited the first 12 verses of Hebrews 1, revealing to me a beauty there that I had never taken the time to reflect on: "God who in sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets (v.1), hath in these last days spoken unto us by His son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; (v.2). . .therefore God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness (v.9). I was struck by that phrase which aptly describes the reward of Jesus and the reward of those who are his followers. Why was he anointed with the oil of gladness? Because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. Jesus kept that motto before him and lived by it even though he was tempted–as we have been–and touched with our infirmities.
Then he quoted from the 4th chapter of Hebrews, and partially from Romans 4 to suit his purposes that show that Jesus was the heir of the world through his faith. He then began to discuss the role that Jesus plays in our lives, quoting extensively from Romans 10. He stressed that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes, or as he succinctly put it, Christ is the whole story for us, which is to say, he is the alpha and omega. He then delved into the reasons for the why and how Jesus is the whole story. By lengthy quotations from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hebrews, Galatians, Peter and Ephesians, he showed how we are all joint heirs with Christ, heirs of the world and heirs of all things with him. He pointed out how Jesus is building a temple of his holiness. And by Hebrews expounded his role as our priest.
Returning to the subject of why Jesus could do this for us: it was because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity, because of he lived and died for his sheep, and because he hated sin, but loved the sinner. Our speaker continued to talk about how the Jews, ignorant of Christ and his role, separated them from him, and warned that the same fate was possible for us. This talk, in his own words, was not something he made up, but consisted mostly of a story told by the Bible itself, a logical, stringing together of passages in a most beautiful and effective way. But then he had to stop, because his audience left him. There were only two of us, and I had to leave to keep a two o’clock appointment. I had been visiting my father in the hospital. I had asked him for some ideas for my own talk tomorrow, and he gave me a complete lecture. My reaction was, "I can’t give that talk, at least in the way he did, in the natural way he called up scriptures, not as mere words, or in any boastful way, not as though memorized, but as old friends. I couldn’t give that talk that way because I would have to pull out my concordance, copy out all the scriptures, and laboriously write them out–and something would be lost.
How did he do it? He was apt enough, but certainly no genius. Whatever the reason, what a comfort to him to have the whole of scripture pass before his eyes as he lay in that hospital bed. Comforted, not sorrowful. No matter what adversity, he could call up a verse. Does he have some peculiar power? I think not. We could all do it, if we wanted to do it–if we loved it enough, and if we were willing to discipline ourselves to do it. Some of us have more trouble than he did, but it is bound to be frightening when it is possible that your heart might stop beating , or the day arrives when the approaching clouds stir up the storms of old age and the spirit returns to God who gave it. If we don’t have trouble now, we’re going to have it some day. Like the preacher in Ecclesiastes, seek to find acceptable words and in what is written that is upright, even words of truth.