When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” Revelation 1:17 (NIV)
My Bible study question asked: Why did John fall down as if dead?
Oh, there are all the usual reasons:
- Like Isaiah and Peter, John could have realized his utter insignificance and worthlessness before a pure and holy God (Isaiah 6:5, Luke 5:8)
- Perhaps he remembered Moses’ conversation with God: ‘No man can see Me and live!’ (Exodus 33:20).
These are both plausible and possible reasons. But here’s my theory. Walk with me for a moment in the sandals of the apostle John. Perhaps these were the thoughts that ran through his mind:
They call me the disciple Jesus loves, His beloved disciple. That seems so odd, since I’m just an ordinary fisherman. But Jesus chose me, and I became a part of His inner circle. Following Jesus from village to village, along dry, dusty roads, I learned so much from Him. I believed all He said, all His teachings. I watched Him perform miracles! And yet…
I was there when they arrested Him in the garden. I watched them drag Him away. I was there when they nailed Him to the cross and I saw Him breathe His last. What now?
He’s gone…He’s gone…They’ve crucified Him. Deep in the pit of my soul, I was afraid. Scared that He was indeed dead, that I would never see Him again. But three days later, Mary Magdalene ran up to Peter and me.
“He’s gone! They’ve taken His body!”
We ran back to the tomb. It was EMPTY! My heart skipped a beat. A shiver of excitement ran through me. And relief, oh the relief that flooded my soul. Jesus was alive! The belief in my mind had moved to my heart. I believed – without even seeing His body – that some how, some way, Jesus was alive!
“So the other disciple (John) who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw (the empty tomb) and believed.” John 20:8
But, where is He? On the cross He said something about paradise. Where is that?
A few days later, we were camped out in the upper room. Our sorrow had overwhelmed us. We were scared. We couldn’t go out, because the people hated us. Suddenly, Jesus was there, among us. He spoke with us, and ate with us. He showed us His nail scarred hands. He HAD died, and risen again! Just like He said. Seeing Him resurrected, my faith was confirmed.
After a few days, He left again, to go to His Father…our Father.
I began to spread the word of the resurrected Christ, and how He saves us from our sins. How He loved us enough to die on that cross for us, even while we are still sinners. I told people He would come again!
I preached it, I taught it as best I could. But how was it all supposed to work? Where is heaven? How will we live with Him forever? What will our bodies be like? I had so much hope, and yet so many questions.
Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. 1 John 3:2 (AMP)
And now, here I am, exiled on Patmos because of my beliefs. I was in the Spirit, and I heard a voice talking to me. I looked around to see who could be here. And that’s when I saw Him!
It’s Him! It’s Jesus! I fell at His feet, like a dead man.
Oh, my Lord and my God! It’s all true. Everything. Your death, burial, and resurrection. Everything. Even this place that You’re giving me a glimpse of, this new home. Yes, I believed You! But I also had doubts about how it would work! But it’s true. Oh, my Jesus, I bow before You. You have fulfilled all my hopes and dreams. You are the Way, the Truth and the Light. I’m home now. I’m really home.
Possibly, just possibly, John was overwhelmed – not at the sight of his glorified Savior, but that it’s all true. Everything Jesus had told him. It’s ALL TRUE! John realized in that instant, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would have eternal life, he would have a glorified body, and he would live forever with Jesus. He knew without a doubt, because he DID see. John knew that his faith was not in vain and all his hopes were fulfilled.
We have faith and believe now. But on that glorious day, when we get to heaven, we will SEE without a doubt that eternal life IS the truth of the Gospel. That Jesus not only died and rose again, but that He will be living among us (Revelation 21:3).
Grace be with you,