This Week's Focus Passage

‘And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead.’

Focus Passage: Revelation 1:17

‘And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead.’

This astounding account by John of the visit that he received from the risen Lord of Glory is well worth the repetition by way of introduction and reminder. You will take note that John informs his reader that at the occasion of this marvelous event he was on the Isle of Patmos for the word and the testimony of Jesus. In other words, he had been exiled to a remote island as a promoter of the relatively new and uniquely different religion of Jesus Christ. He is not left alone, however, and while he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, he received a visit from an equally unique, and perhaps unexpected Guest. Listen to John’s description of his Guest:

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were like a flame of fire; and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

—Revelation 1:12-16

Is it any wonder at all that the very next thing we read regarding this glorious vision is that John fell at the feet of this Person as one dead? This Person did not remonstrate with the apostle over his having responded in such fashion, but rather he;

Laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last; and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.—Revelation 1:17-18

Who indeed can make such a claim as this; that He is the first and the last? Who else but He of whom John wrote at the very outset of his gospel account, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God? In speaking in such language, Christ clearly informed his beloved disciple, without question, as to just who He was; the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. John had last seen his Savior when He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:9. We may wonder that John was even able to recognize his Lord and Savior in what was, quite apparently, such an incredibly different form from that in which he had seen Him ascend into the cloud. Yet, was this not the same disciple of whom we read in John 21? We are told in that passage near the close of the gospel of John, that the disciples had gone ‘a fishing.’ Simon and the other disciples entered into the boat, and though they were fishing all night, they took nothing. We are further told;

But when day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore saith unto them, Children, have ye aught to eat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

It was upon this conversation and the eventuating result of it that brought John to a recognition of exactly who is was that was standing on the beach; of just who it was with whom they were conversing; who told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. Many writers presume that John recognized Jesus because of the remembrance of a very similar circumstance recorded in Luke 5:4, with a similar result. This was, in fact, the instance where Peter was so affected that he fell down at Jesus’ feet saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. One would readily imagine, because of that response of Peter, that he would be the first one to realize that it was Jesus standing on the beach; that he, rather than John, would be the one to say to the others, It is the Lord.

These things are all wonderful in themselves, but that which we wish to look upon this week is the response of those come face to face with the Lord. As we have just seen of Peter, he fell down at Jesus’ feet and, like Isaiah in chapter 6, saw what a sinful man he was when being, as it were, compared with perfect holiness. This is what Isaiah saw when he was caused to cry out, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. It is John himself that reports in John 12:41, referring to the words of Isaiah in that sixth chapter, These things said Isaiah, because he saw his glory; and he spake of him, that is Jesus. When God called to Moses out of the midst of the burning bush in Exodus 3, He commanded him to put off his shoes for the place was holy. He then told Moses that He was the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, upon which we read that Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. Joshua, likewise, when confronted by the Angel of Jehovah, the prince of the host of Jehovah, fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, receiving the same direction that his predecessor had received, Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy, and Joshua did so.

Numerous such occasions are recorded for us throughout the Word of God, intimating the proper response to coming before God Almighty. In every record, we find the same response of godly fear and submission. When we approach God in worship through Jesus Christ, ought we not to have something of that reverence and godly fear spoken of by the preacher in Hebrews 12? Certainly, we are to come into His presence with joy because we come in the name of our Great High Priest, Who has washed us in His blood and presents us to His Father and ours. But should we not desire equally to give reverence unto Him of whom it is said, Holy and reverend is his name? Walking with God as Enoch walked with God; as Noah walked with God, requires balance. God has given us the balancing Rod of His Word so that we may serve Jehovah with fear and rejoice with trembling.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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