Read many contemporary books about Jesus Christ and they will paint a picture of One who is a friendly buddy, or a permissive and non-threatening boss, or a kind, passive, and undemanding husband.
But the apostle John paints a different picture of Christ in Revelation 1. He:
- is the faithful witness (v. 5)
- is the firstborn of the dead (v. 5)
- is the ruler of the kings of the earth (v. 5)
- released us from our sins by His blood (v. 5)
- has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father (v. 6)
- rightfully deserves the glory and the dominion forever and ever (v. 6)
- is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him (v. 7)
- will be mourned over by all the tribes of the earth (v. 7)
- is the Son of Man (v. 13)
- is clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash (v. 13)
- has a head and and hair that are white like white wool, like snow and His eyes are like a flame of fire (v. 14)
- has feet that are like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters (v. 15)
- holds in His right hand seven stars, and out of His mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword; and His face is like the sun shining in its strength (v. 16)
So awesome was this vision that when John saw it, he said, “I fell at His feet like a dead man” (v. 17). John the disciple, the beloved disciple, the disciple that new Jesus more closely and intimately than any other man knew Him when He was on earth, saw his friend and Master in this vision — and he was terror-stricken. He knew that while Christ was his friend, Christ was also something far more than a mere man. Jesus Christ, John recognized, is one to be feared. Jesus Christ is supreme and all men are to be humble before Him.
And yet, for all His power and authority and awesomeness, notice also Jesus’ response to John’s terror and fear: “And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades…’” (Rev 1:17–18 NASB).
To John’s terror, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” For the follower of Christ, the rightful fear is removed. For the follower of Christ, though Christ is supremely powerful and the Judge of all men and terrible to unredeemed men, yet He is at the same time a friend to redeemed sinners, a loving and gracious groom to His bride, and an exalted and helping brother. He is still to be worshipped. The believer is ever humble before Him. But there is no fear of judgment. There is no terror. Because He lives and because He holds the keys of death and Hell, the one who has been redeemed can rest and be at peace in His presence.
What a wonderful Savior we serve.