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. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this….” (Revelation 1:17–19)
What he saw was not an ordinary scene. The verses before this describe Jesus standing and speaking in the midst of golden lamp stands. He was clothed in a long robe with a golden sash around his chest. His hair was as white as snow and His eyes like a flame of fire. His feet looked like burnished bronze. His voice was a roar like many waters. Jesus held in His right hand seven stars. Out from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword. His face shone like the sun in full strength.
I’ve seen paintings that represent Jesus. Most of them depict a pious face, strangely Anglo Saxon, even with blue eyes. Some of them show a face contorted in agony in a scene of chaos involving a cross. Many have a halo around His head. None (at least in my experience) depicts Jesus with white hair or a face shining like the sun, never mind with a sword in His mouth.
Most would say this vision is symbolic. That is, the lamp stands and stars represent the church that bears His name. The white hair says He is the Ancient of Days, the one who is eternal. His eyes see all in perfect light. His footing is firm, His voice heard all over the world. The sword represents the word of God which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
What strikes me about this passage is that John was afraid of what he saw. Most Christians have the idea that Jesus is their closest friend, someone that they could sit beside with ease and talk to without any inhibitions. While this is true, there is more to Jesus than His being in a buddy-buddy relationship with His people.
In this vision, John saw Jesus in His glory. He knew Him as a friend, but now sees Him as much more. From John’s description, I also see much more. Jesus is my friend and cares for me, but He is also exalted above all else. He rules over those who believe in Him with a sharp sword that cuts through our mush and our hypocrisy. When He speaks, we ought to listen. When His face shines, we ought to walk in the light He gives.
Because of who He is, if I do not live in awe of my Savior, and have no vision of the fullness of His glory, then I ought to fall on my feet as though dead anyway, for that would be a description of my spiritual life.
Lord, today we go to worship alongside other Christians in a corporate setting. May all that we think and do exalt You in the fullness of who You are. May we see the wonder of Your love for us, but also experience the light that exposes our sin, and then mercifully purifies our hearts. May we recognize all that You are, and in awe fall on our faces before You.