Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets…
That it is Christ who here speaks, no one can doubt. The words that immediately precede separate the speaker from every created angel: "Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be." These words involve a claim to Deity. This is given in the Old Testament as a title of Jehovah, distinguishing Him from the idols of paganism (Isaiah 44:6)! Christ is the Alpha and Omega IN RELATION TO CREATION AND PROVIDENCE. Christianity is at this day the great upholder of Theism in the world. It has unspeakably distanced Judaism. But Christianity is more than the witness of simple Theism. There is a trinity in its unity, and this gives it a richness, a grandeur, an adaptability to the fallen state of man of which mere Theism is incapable. Hence the Son shines in the Christian firmament as the true God, along with the Father and the Holy Ghost; and thus the Divine works of Creation and Providence are connected with His name. "And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands." There is a grandeur in the Scripture doctrine of Creation to which even science and philosophy, however reason also teach it, find it hard to rise. Much of the professed Theism of our day runs into Pantheism by lifting up the Creation to something like the Divine level, or losing itself in some ascending series without a true summit. But Scripture gives to God the glory of this truly Divine work, without either lifting the creature too far in the scale, or separating the divinity unduly from it. And thus, while it guards true Theism by the doctrine of Creation, it further guards it by making God create all things by Jesus Christ. But while we ever thus claim, and even reclaim Creation for Christ, not less Providence also; for the one involves the other. The system of things, though by law and order it makes a system, cannot be left without the special control of its Author; and thus we are told of the Saviour, that He "upholdeth all things by the word of His power," — and that "in Him all things consist." He who is the Creator and Upholder must also be the Last End of all things, the Omega as well as the Alpha, though nothing greater is said of our Lord in the whole Bible; and thus the whole from first to last hangs together.
II. I am thus led to speak of Christ as the Alpha and Omega IN RELATION TO REDEMPTION. We feel at first as if there were a contraction of horizon when we turn from the vast realm of Creation and Providence to that of Redemption. But this impression is soon corrected. Rather Creation and Providence are liker the stage on which the great events of sacred history, which is the centre of all histories, are to be transacted.
1. I remark then that Christ is the Alpha and Omega in regard to Redemption as a Divine saving plan. We cannot ascend to the origin of this plan; for it is from eternity. But as far as we can rise, Christ is seen to be its fountain-head, and with His purpose of devotement it is bound up. "Lo, I come! In the volume of the book it is written of Me; I delight to do Thy will, O My God; Thy law is within my heart." This is a starting-point, where Christ comes forth as the Alpha in His Divine purpose. He was the author of the patriarchal dispensation. Its scattered promises, then few and far between, were presented like early stars by His hand. Its humble altars and simple sacrifices rose at His word, and He appeared in person to Enoch and to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Mosaic dispensation was also full of Him. Moses and all the prophets spoke as they were moved by His Spirit dwelling in them. All the types and shadows that foretold His saving work had Himself for their author. And as He was thus the Alpha of this Old Testament dispensation that stretched in successive forms through thousands of years, so was He bound to be its Omega. What would it all have signified without Him? Its prophecies would have remained fruitless divinations; its types a heap of riddles. But it became Him to fulfil it; and when the fulness of the time was come, He appeared as the Omega of the Old Testament economy; and at the same time the Alpha of the New. "Let us look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith." Let us rejoice with joy unspeakable, that He who was the Alpha of our redemption became the Omega too. Now He is beyond, and we are beyond, that awful darkness. "It is finished!" Let us not lower His work and misunderstand it, while at the same time we unduly exalt our own by speaking as if Christ's sacrifice belonged to the same category with ours. Then had He died not to end sacrifice, but to begin it, and stand at the head of a long line of sufferers taking away sin out of the world by essentially the same endurance with His. But He is alone! "His blood shed," as ours never can be, "for remission of sins unto many."
2. I remark that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Redemption as a personal Christian experience. When is it that one of us becomes a Christian? Is it not when Christ Himself draws near, and talks with us, as with the disciples on the way? We have no experimental Christianity apart from Him. He is the Alpha of our personal religious history. We may seem to ourselves to have begun this work; but Christ has begun it before us. For this opening of hearts, what is it but the result of His unlocking of them? But with Christ all originates. If we are pardoned, it is because we have redemption through His blood — even the forgiveness of sins; if we are restored to God's family, it is because that to as many as receive Him He gives the privilege of becoming the sons of God. If we are washed and sanctified as well as justified, it is in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. We can trace no part of it back to ourselves, or to any other benefactor; for we see and feel that, like bread of life, it comes from heaven. This is the deepest spirit of all Christian experience. Our theologies may be somewhat different, but our doxologies are one. Thus is it with the first grand experience of converting and saving grace; but not less does Christ blend and mingle with all the succeeding experiences of the Christian's history. He gently smooths the steps of every pilgrim in the ways of holiness. He suffers not the smoking flax to be quenched, or the bruised reed to be broken. In temptation Christ is a defence to the Christian, in darkness a light. What is Christian experience but this secret history of the affections of the soul towards an ever-present Saviour? He outgrows his childhood and youth, forgetting many things as things behind. He forsakes the books which once he loved, the studies from which he was inseparable. But time itself cannot antiquate his attachment to his Saviour. We know the Alpha of our earthly friendships, but we do not know their Omega. We bless God for our good hope that they will stand and comfort us in the last extremity. But in regard to Christ we have more than probability; we have persuasion. "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities," etc.
3. I remark that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Redemption as a collective spiritual history. Christianity was never intended to be a solitary experience, or a multitude of single experiences. It was to be a society — a Church. Was it not a great thing in Christ to be the Alpha of such a society; to build it upon a foundation already laid, and yet to make it far more spiritual, energetic, and wide-embracing; to enlarge its statute-book by adding a New Testament to the Old. Christ stands forth as the Alpha of this new creation, such as had never been seen in the world before — visible in doctrine, discipline, worship, and government, and yet invisible, because having its deepest seat in the hidden man of the heart, with more of its members in heaven than on earth, and more in the future than now alive. He was the seed-corn, falling into the ground and dying, which brought forth all this fruit. As we read the Acts of the Apostles, the sequel to the Gospels is evident to all — the same Christ in a new sphere, His name working signs and wonders on the souls, and still also on the bodies, of men, living virtue going out of Him — the bread blessed and feeding thousands — the "great multitude obedient to the faith." The earthly leaders visibly do not lead. They point to One above — and their dying charge renews the battle, "Remember Jesus Christ." Thus will Christ be the Alpha of His Church till He becomes the Omega. It is a work "never ending, still beginning." Christ has to cope with the multiplication of the human race, born in sin, and needing fresh grace. He has to cope with backsliding and apostasy; — with superstition, heresy, and infidelity; with all the devices and depths of Satan.
4. I remark in the last place, that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Redemption, considered as an endless development. When we speak of eternity we feel that we are dealing with a quantity which, whether as applied to man's natural endowment or destiny in Christ, overtasks all our powers alike of conception and description. He is thus the Alpha of the everlasting ages, the morning star that leads in the endless day I Specially to the ransomed themselves is Christ the Alpha of the Christian heaven, lie has prepared the place; He has provided the company; He has measured out alike the rest and the activity; He has diffused the love. A blessedness like this, inaugurated by Christ, and quickened by His presence, can only begin, but never end. And thus Christ may be said to be the Omega of the heavenly world, as He is its Alpha. He has united its beginning and its ending as in a golden circle. He has so gloriously consummated the being of the redeemed, that it can endure for ever without exhaustion or decay, without change or reconstruction. He has so wondrously built the celestial system, that it can supply themes of endless interest and ever-increasing joy. And in Himself He has so concentrated all that makes heaven blissful and ennobling, that its riches must remain for ever riches that are "unsearchable," and its glory, a glory "to be revealed." Who is there that would resist the attraction of the person, work, and saving grace of that great Being, whose glories I have feebly endeavoured to shadow forth? Before you reject this Saviour think how you will face eternity without Him! Oh, rather embrace His favour while the day of mercy lasts! There Christ shall become the Alpha of your salvation; and the depths of your never-ending existence shall not witness the day that He shall withdraw His love.
(J. Cairns, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.