First, Last and Winning!
A few months back, my children wanted to have some friends over one night, and chose to ask two children whose father was out to sea aboard one of our nation's finest aircraft carriers. He had been gone for 4 or 5 months, and was due back in another 1 or 2.
The problem was that the little girl had a soccer game early Saturday morning, and we would have to take her. I, in my ultimate wisdom, saw myself taking all four kids to the game. My wife was out of town on a business trip, so I was on my own.
The next morning, as we get ready to go to the game, her brother states how he would really prefer to stay at our house with my son instead of going to the game. Well, I had never left any children alone at the house, so I hesitated. He reminded me that he had often watched his sister at home for his parents for a few hours, and this would not be very different.
Despite my reservations, I agreed. I knew that the boys would love to stay at the house and play games on the Nintendo, while we were at the soccer game. Little did I know that I was helping to set up this little story! After ensuring that my son still knew my cell phone number for a about a dozen times, we left.
The game was exciting.
My daughter's friend had not scored any goals all season, which was coming to a close. Her team won, she scored the winning goal, and I had two very excited little girls in the car on the way back. And her brother had missed the whole thing. So did both her parents.
I wanted to play a joke on her brother, so when we got back I told him, "Your sister scored the first goal of the game, she scored the last goal of the game and she scored what turned out to be the winning goal for her team. How many goals did she score?"
"One" was his answer after thinking about it. My ego was deflated. I had tried to trick a young seventh grader and failed. He was right. Her team had won the game 1 to 0. She scored the goal early in the second half after the goalie had blocked another girl's shot, but was unable to control the rebound.
But wait. I thought about it later as they enjoyed lunch together. "The first, the last, the winning" did not add up to three, but did add up to the total goals scored. In the same way, many people, when the read about Jesus saying that He is the "Alpha" (which is the first letter of the alphabet, so He is also saying He is the "First") and when He is saying He is the "Omega" (which is the last letter of the alphabet, so He is also saying He is the "Last") take that phrase to mean that Jesus is the total sum of what God is doing. Jesus is (He forgives me this analogy) "all the goals scored" in the soccer game of life.
As is so often, Jesus says more than we, or at least I, hear at any one time. He is saying more. He is also pointing out that He is unique. He is the "First and the Last", which is to say He is the "Only". He is the "First Son of God", He is the "Last Son of God" and He is the "Winning Son of God" in that He defeated Satan at the cross.
He is the "Only Son of God" in that He is the only way into heaven. He is the doorkeeper of that great hotel that will be greater than any home we use temporarily here on Earth. You can get into heaven only because the doorkeeper, who happens to also be the door, opens for you.
He'll do that if He recognizes you when you get there. That's what He said to the 'wise young ladies' in his analogy about the kingdom of heaven. If He has a relationship with you while you are alive on this earth, He'll open up. Don't be a stranger to Him, don't let Him be a stranger to you.
He is the "First", the "Last" and the "Winning". He is the "Only".
What a soccer game we had that day!