Grow Deep: I AM Edition, Week 7
Week 7 – March 25-31
I AM the Alpha and the Omega …
“I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” - Revelation 22:13
My wife loves The Food Channel cooking competitions. I recently stepped into the room as one of those shows reached a climactic moment. The judge had made his decision to eliminate one of the hard-working contestants. And then … a dramatic pause for commercials, of course. We all know that the “two minute warning” of these shows is never just two minutes, but is the dramatic pause leading us to a high-intensity, hypersensory, heart-pounding, slow motion charge to the finish line.
The Biblical drama of Jesus’ passion has its own version of slowing down the action. From Genesis to Revelation, it leads us down an increasingly narrow road. Slowly, suspensefully, the heart and plan of God comes into focus. It draws hearts to meet Jesus. He is paradoxically, humble man and Son of God, suffering servant and King of kings, the climax of history and fulfillment of God’s plan, the Alpha-and-Omega, First-and-Last, Beginning-and-End ... of ALL.
The “two-minute warning” of the Christian journey of Lent (and the Bible) is triggered with “Holy Week.” For decades, I’ve read the Passion story of Jesus during the last days of Lent. The Gospel writers spend more time on this ”holy” week focusing on Jesus than all other stories combined. They go into slow-motion and without interruption head to the finish line. What I’ve found, though, is that I need to take the pauses to let Jesus engage me more intimately with each reading.
This week takes you through the seven last sentences of Jesus and His burial with dramatic pauses to read and reflect. As you reflect, let Jesus’ biggest, all-encompassing “I AM” claim wash over your thoughts. Look into the infinite grace and complete sufficiency of His sacrifice for your life.
For many, these readings are familiar. Still, we’re called to read and reflect as disciples at the feet of Jesus, hanging on every word, expecting to be surprised in the midst of the familiar, and captured by the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end of our lives.
So game on! Read and reflect with suspense and holy anticipation. As you go to the cross with Jesus, reflect on how His words and silence, His deeds and submission, all reveal Jesus as Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, of your life.
Sunday, March 25
Read: Revelation 1:4-8
John’s opening words of his visionary letter address seven churches. They were real communities in the first century, but they are also representative of all believers including us. This is Palm Sunday, and all over the world people are celebrating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem which will lead to the climax of our salvation.
Reflect: How does this occasion, and John’s words, expand your perspective as a disciple of Jesus and member of His church? What words or phrases attributed to Jesus here can deepen your focus this Holy Week? Write them down, remember them and use them as you read and reflect this week.
For the Family: Alpha and Omega are Greek letters that mean “beginning and end.” Why do you think those terms describe Jesus? Where was Jesus at the beginning of your life? Where will He be when your life ends?
Alternate Family Focus for Holy Week: Each day review one of the “I AM” statements of this edition and discuss what you learned about Jesus. Include how that statement identifies Jesus as the Savior of the World. End each day with a prayer, thanking Jesus for His suffering and death.
Monday, March 26
Read: Luke 23:32-43
Luke gives us the first two of seven sentences that Jesus speaks during His time of suffering and crucifixion. As He bears the sins of the world on that cross, there is one criminal hanging on another cross there with Him who declares his belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
Reflect: How does what Jesus says (and doesn’t say) reveal Him to be the first and last of all that you need and have to share with others?
For the Family: What words of Jesus show that one of the criminals crucified with Him was forgiven? How can we be sure that He forgives us? Thank Jesus for sacrificing His life so that we would be forgiven and saved.
Tuesday, March 27
Read: John 19:25-27
Jesus declares His mother and His beloved friend to be family to each other .
Reflect: Who has Jesus introduced you to as His family? Who is He showing you now that expands your “family” perspective? How is the cross a “beginning and ending” place for “family” in our lives?
For the Family: How did Jesus show the depth of His love for His mother? How did He show His love for John? How do you show your love to your parents?
Wednesday, March 28
Read: Mark 15:29-36
Those who pass by mock Jesus. Darkness covers the sun in midday. Jesus, likely praying Psalm 22, speaks its opening sentence of haunting forsakenness.
Reflect: When have you struggled to see God’s presence? Who do you know who feels surrounded by darkness, depression, doubt or even emptiness enough to mock God? How is Jesus’ cry one for all of us? What helps you hold on to Him in the darkness?
For the Family: What does it mean to “mock” someone? How did the people and the religious leaders mock Jesus? When Jesus cried out to His Father, what did He say? Do you believe that God had forsaken Him? Why or why not? Does God ever forsake us?
Thursday, March 29
Read: John 19:28-30
Knowing that He had accomplished what was the will of His Father and His death was at hand, Jesus cries out in thirst.
Reflect: What do you thirst for? What is His drink? What is yours? As Jesus’ life flows out of Him, He cries, “It is finished.” What do His words mean to you? How can this all-inclusive, “alpha and omega” declaration aid your faith and life with Jesus?
For the Family: What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished.” when He was on the cross? What ended when Jesus made that statement? How was that statement also a statement of beginning?
Friday, March 30
Read: Luke 23:44-46 and Mark 15:39-41
Jesus’ last word from the cross, as well as the first known response, are in these two passages. A Roman soldier responds to what he has seen with faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
Reflect: What does it mean for Jesus to put Himself into the Father’s hands? What does it mean for you? What have you seen from Jesus in these 40 days of meditation? How have you grown deeper in your relationship with the Son of God?
For the Family: How do you think the soldier in these verses knew who Jesus was? How do we know who Jesus is today? How was Jesus’ death a beginning for this soldier? How is believing in Jesus a beginning for us?
Saturday, March 31
Read: John 19:31-42
Now the silence. Jesus’ words are gone. Blood and water flows. The words now are of begging for His body and its preparation.
Reflect: This Lenten journey with Jesus’ words now turns to you. How will you receive the offering of His body? What will you do with it? How will you rest with Him and anticipate His resurrection?
For the Family: The two men who came to take Jesus’ body had believed that Jesus was the Son of God … but in secret. What changed? How do you think they felt about His suffering and death? Take time to thank God for His suffering and death for you!