Are we to fear Jesus or love Him? The answer is “both”. Here’s an example of what that looks like:
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, – Revelation 1:17
This was John’s reaction to seeing the vision of the Lord Jesus. And we should pause for a moment and reflect on who John is and who Jesus is, in relation to John. Remember that John was one of the Savior’s closest disciples during His earthly ministry. Remember that John was the one whom Jesus loved. Remember John’s deep love for Him. In light of all that, note His reaction to seeing the Savior in His glory:
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead.
This was not an uncommon reaction to being in the presence of heavenly glory. We see it in various places both in the Old Testament and the new. But again, remember that Jesus and John were very close. Yet this was John’s reaction.
There’s a song lyric that asks, “Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of You be still?” Now, perhaps eventually we will dance. But it would be safe to guess that our first reaction would be like John’s.
It’s also important to note that just because John fell down in fear, it doesn’t mean that this wasn’t mixed with other powerful emotions, like rapture and bliss. But what we know for sure is that seeing Jesus like this made John fall down like a dead man.
Notice that Christ’s response to John’s falling down was to put His right hand on him. What a tender act. What an act of humility and love to reach down and comfort His friend, brother, co-heir, and servant.
And in conjunction with the physical comfort, He also adds, “Fear not“. Again, this is a common saying from God or His angels when they appear with a benevolent purpose. Fear not.
Fear not, He says. “I am the first and the last“. It’s difficult to understand why these words would be comforting. In essence, what this means is, “There was no one before me, and there will be no one after me.” It speaks to infinity and eternity. In the Old Testament, this is often and only said by Yahweh. Yahweh is the first and the last. Jesus is the first and the last. Jesus is God.
If anything, that should just bring more fear. But in addition to fear, those who know God and through faith in Christ are right with Him also experience comfort and peace and joy, by virtue of His being the Comforter, the Prince of Peace, and our very Joy.
Do you know this Savior? If you don’t, you have only reason to fear Him. He is King and He will come back to judge those who reject Him. But even now, you can turn from your wicked ways and like John fall at His feet. He died on the cross for sinners like us, so that He could in His resurrection, defeat sin and death for all who believe in Him.
Do you know this Savior? If you do, yes, He is still worthy of our fear. But the fear is in the context of love for He who first loved us and gave Himself as a payment for our sins. Love Him and fear Him this day.