Do you remember the last time you were terrified?
I can remember two – 9/11 and the day one of my [then toddler] sons fell down the basement stairs. Both times, my mind seemed to go completely blank AND frenzied at the same time. I remember – specifically on 9/11 – feeling like I no longer had control of my body as I realized what I saw on the tv screen wasn’t a movie.
In the first chapter of Revelation, John sees Jesus and John’s reaction is fear. BIG fear. He writes that he “fell at his (Jesus’) feet as dead.” (If you read the verses leading into this, you’ll see that John had a pretty legit reason to be afraid. This was not exactly the friendly, smiling Jesus you see in most paintings.)
The next thing I noticed was how Jesus responded to John’s fear. Check it out:
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! I hold the keys of death and the grave.’”Revelation 1:17-18 NLT 1996
Jesus could’ve said or done ANYTHING. He could’ve transformed himself into a sweet, Disney-eyed puppy. He could have smiled. He could have hugged John. But, what did he do?
He calmed John’s fears by reminding him who he – Jesus – is.
He reminded John that:
- He can’t fear time when Jesus is the first and the last.
- He can’t fear life because Jesus is the LIVING one.
- He can’t fear death because Jesus beat it.
- He can’t fear whatever’s beyond this life because Jesus holds the keys to death and the grave.
What’s left to be afraid of? (I would love to have seen Jesus do a mic drop right here…)
So, whether it’s a terrorist attack or a threat to my child’s life or whatever it might be, Jesus’ response to John’s fear tells me something. Jesus’ words of victory over death help remind me that God’s not an impartial observer. He’s right next to me, doing battle against life and death for me. He understands my terror and he reassures me that the big things that really matter are already taken care of.
Prayer: Dear Lord, It feels like every day there’s a new thing to worry about. But you are so, so much bigger than all these things. I want to live a different kind of life – a life where I am unafraid in the face of danger because you’re with me. Help me be brave. Amen.