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Seeing the Risen Savior

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17–18)

Seeing the Christ in His risen and glorified state caused John's knees to buckle. He assumes a posture of reverential fear that we should all exhibit as we enter the presence of our Lord at corporate worship. But this was slightly different than the experience you or I have on any given Sunday. The reason? There was no veil, no mediation--John's faith was made sight. He was seeing not in a mirror dimly, but literally face to face.

And it nearly killed him.

At least, that's what it felt like to John. Notice the language: "I fell at his feet as though dead." Why would this be his reaction? Because He was beholding all of the ineffable perfections of the Creator of the Universe. Before His eyes was the Law incarnate, and John realized that He fell far short of what such a sublime Being would require of Him. The Law kills (2 Cor 3:6). But Christ is not only the Law incarnate, but also the Gospel incarnate. And the Gospel brings to life. Thus His first words to John are sweet words of assurance: "Fear not." These are words we all need to hear if we are to enjoy beautiful communion with our loving Lord. His will is not to condemn, my friends, but to pardon. For although we see our utter failures when we see Him, we see much more than that. We see that He died for us, and therefore we must not feel as though we were dead in His presence. "You don't die," He says. "I died!" He himself has the keys to Heaven and Hell, and to those who believe on Him He has opened the door to Life Evermore and gently ushers them in. Why fall down or shrink back in fear?

Jonathan Cruse