Christ Jesus: Our Lord and Our God
In the Gospel which John wrote (probably prior to Revelation), he recounts the episode wherein Thomas, who was not in attendance upon our Lord’s first appearance to his disciples after his resurrection and so would not believe unless he first saw and touched his wounds, was present the following Sunday when Christ appeared to them. His response to Jesus when challenged with his own words was, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus did not correct Thomas for his exclamation but for his previous lack of belief: Jesus Christ is Lord and God.
And this is what is plainly testified in today’s passage. Struck by our Lord’s glorious appearance, John falls at Jesus’ feet as if dead. You will find several passages of Scripture throughout the Bible where one falls before an angel and is told not to do so—but not here. Like Thomas’ confession, John’s involuntary but willing obeisance is entirely appropriate. Jesus graciously touches him and says, “Fear not,” which are gracious words indeed when in the presence of God.
But then come a few other descriptions of our Lord: The first and the last, the living one who died and lives forevermore, and the custodian of Death and Hades. All of these speak to our Lord’s divine nature as the Second Person of the Triune God. Indeed, the title, “the first and last,” is the equivalent of the Father’s description in 1:4 as He “who is and who was and who is to come.” John said in his Gospel, “And the Word was God” (1:1-3). The reference to his living, dying, and living again forever is obviously in regards to his resurrection. And it is because of his resurrection that he has the keys of Death and Hades. His resurrection was his victory over Death and Hades, and so he reserves his rights over both. It’s not that Christ had to “earn” the keys; after all, Hades was created through him and Death was our doing. Our Lord’s death and resurrection was in fulfillment of his own Law and decree, what the Triune God had planned from all eternity. The execution of that plan sealed our redemption and his triumph.
John is told to “write…the things that you have seen, those that are, and those that are to take place after this.” The rest of Revelation will unfold this verse, but we must not think that the Book’s contents were irrelevant to the believers who first read it or those who have read it for almost 2000 years. The events the Book describes have both happened and will happen again—and with a fury just before the end of time.