And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:…
I. WHO IT IS THAT PRESCRIBES THE REMEDY FOR YOUR FEARS. It is Jesus who lays His right hand upon you, saying unto you, "Fear not." It is not by arguments devised by men that you are called on to look up in hope and confidence. It is by an entreaty coming to yourself fresh from the mouth of Him before whom you tremble. And oh, when it is He Himself that bids you not fear, does not the very glory with which He is encircled bring encouragement to your heart? Do you not feel that you may safely lay aside your fears, when all the terrors of His Majesty are arrayed, not against you, but on your behalf?
II. EXAMINE THE REMEDY IN ITS SEVERAL PARTS. Christ not only bids His people fear not, but He urges reasons why they should not. These reasons are contained in the several parts of the remedy.
1. "I am the first and the last, I am He that liveth," or, as it might be rendered, "I am the Living One." Several ideas are comprehended under these expressions: Christ existing from everlasting to everlasting — Christ the author and end of all things — Christ their sum and substance. The epithets are, you perceive, expressive of His Godhead. The others which He assumes in the text have respect to His humanity. How beautifully they all unite to dispel the fears of His people! Some of these fears are to be chased away by His Godhead some by His humanity; to chase away all Christ speaks both as God and as man.
2. "I was dead." In how striking a contrast this part stands to the last! The glory of the Deity is now shaded by the darkness of a human grave. But what an amount of comfort this part is calculated to afford; for, if Christ was dead, why should you fear to approach the throne of grace on which He now sits? But, again. If Christ was dead, why should you, who are one with Him, fear the punishment of your sins? That punishment is all past already. And still farther. If Christ was dead, why should you fear to die? Perhaps you are among those who, through fear of death, are subject to bondage. Then Christ died to deliver you from this fear.
3. "Behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen." This part is another strange contrast to the last, another brilliant evolution of the character of your exalted Lord. The darkness of a human grave is now dispelled by the light of immortality.
4. "And have the keys of hell and of death." At death there is a separation not only from friends and the world, but even from your very self. Christ has the keys of all these doors. He has the key of the door by which the body and soul of His people separate. You cannot die, therefore, till Christ with His own hand open the door; the last breath is the turning of the lock. What serenity this should shed around the death-bed of the believer, and how strong consolation it should impart to those who are left behind! Christ has also the keys of the doors by which the souls and bodies of believers pass to each other for an eternal union. If saints on earth "groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body" — if their souls, even when inhabiting their earthly tabernacle, "do groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with their house which is from heaven" — what must be the longings of these souls as the winter of death advances to its close, and the time of the redemption of their bodies draws nigh!
Parallel VersesKJV: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: