We have reached the end of another church year. This is the last Sunday of this year, and next Sunday will be the first Sunday in Advent, the first of the new church year. So, since it is the end of the year, and we've learned so much about Jesus this year, it's time for a quiz! Turn to the back of your Bibles! You didn't know there was a quiz there? Yes, turn to Revelation 1:4-8, and we can find in verse 5 a definition quiz. Here is where we will define some terms. Ready?
Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
So, first definition of Jesus Christ: the faithful witness. What does this mean? It means that of all the authorities we can turn to, Jesus is the only faithful witness of reality. He is the only one who will not lead us astray. And the Bible is the only place where we can access his exact words. We have to trust that this book is completely reliable, and then, we must turn to the words of Christ and the words ABOUT Christ (which is all the other words in the Bible) and study them.
Before we found Jesus, we relied on the authorities of this world--our scientists, our experts, our politicians, our judges, our doctors--for knowledge and wisdom. After finding Jesus we know that he is the only one we can faithfully turn to, because he is the only faithful witness. Check your answers. Did you get the definition right?
Second definition: the firstborn of the dead. What does this mean? It means that before Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected, we lived this life and then we died, like a fly trapped in amber. Stuck in death. Jesus' resurrection, however, defeated death, punched a hole through death, and found life on the other side. We must remember that this new life is wholly unlike the previous life. This is not a Lazarus resurrection. We don't just return to life only to die again later. We punch through death TO THE OTHER SIDE, where there lies everlasting life. This is a different kind of existence altogether, and Jesus was the one who punched that hole through the amber. He tied a lifeline around his waist and it trails into this life now. We hold onto the lifeline and when we pass through death, we will not be trapped in the amber. Jesus has saved us from death.
Before Jesus we lived our lives selfishly, because this was the only life there was for us. Why not live for this life, since it is all that we have? After finding Jesus we realize that there is another life beyond this one, an imperishable life, and we now live our lives around that one, which causes us to live our lives differently on this side of death than before. Check your answers. How did you do on that definition?
Third, we have the ruler of the kings of the earth. What does this mean? Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not from this world. However, after his death and resurrection, Jesus was put in charge of all things. Let's look at Paul's letter to the Philippians.
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
After his death, Jesus was highly exalted to be above everything in existence. He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. Before his death and resurrection, the devil ruled the earth. After, Jesus is restored to his rightful place as king.
What does this mean for us? Well, this is a difficult aspect of Jesus to define, because we just had a presidential election, and at those times even the most faithful of us desire to turn to humans as our saviors. Whether you're happy with the results or not, the truth is that the winners in this election have it harder now. For another four years, the winners will be be putting their faith in an earthly king. The losers have no choice now but to put all their faith in Jesus, the King of kings. Before Jesus we put our faith in the authorities of this world, and after we discover Jesus, we put our faith in him. Check your answers. Did you get this one right? How did you on the quiz, did you get a passing grade?
Well, never fear! I have a bonus question. Move down to Revelation 1:8: "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Here is another description of Christ. What does this mean? According to John 1, Jesus was with the Father at the beginning. All things were created through him. He was at the foundation of everything, and so he is the Alpha, the beginning, the start. Place an anchor right there at the beginning of time. Jesus is also the Omega. He will be there at the end. All things will be RECREATED through him. Put another anchor at the end of everything.
Now stretch taut a lifeline between the two anchors, one that runs through all of our lives. We don't know when it will happen, but this world will pass away. It is already passing away. We need to be holding onto that lifeline, because everything is going to drop away under our feet like an elevator with the cable cut. We think to ourselves, "I'll just let go of the lifeline for a quick sec, go over here and do my sinful thing, and then I'll run back over here and grab hold again. I've done it countless times, and there's been no problem, so I'll just do it again. We don't know what will happen this time, so it is better to keep holding that lifeline. Pray for God's grace that will compel us to hold onto it, because we want so badly to let go.
Before Jesus came into our lives, we had no hope of salvation. Now that he is here, we have the ultimate hope of salvation. Hold tight to the lifeline and thank God for the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth, the alpha and the omega. AMEN.