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. THE DISCIPLE OVERPOWERED.
1. The occasion.
2. The reason.It was partly fear. That fear originated partly in a sense of his own weakness and insignificance in the presence of the Divine strength and greatness. How shall an insect live in the furnace of the sun? We are such infirmity, folly, and nothingness, that, if we have but a glimpse of omnipotence, awe and reverence prostrate us to the earth. The most spiritual and sanctified minds, when they fully perceive the majesty and holiness of God, are so greatly conscious of the great disproportion between themselves and the Lord that they are humbled and filled with holy awe, and even with dread and alarm. The reverence which is commendable is pushed by the infirmity of our nature into a fear which is excessive. There is no doubt, too, that a part of the fear which caused John to swoon arose from a partial ignorance or forgetfulness of his Lord. Shall we charge this upon one who wrote one of the gospels and three choice epistles? Yes, it was doubtless so, because the Master went on to instruct and teach him in order to remove his fear. He needed fresh knowledge or old truths brought home with renewed power in order to cure his dread. As soon as he knew his Lord he recovered his strength. Study, then, your Lord. Make it your life's object to know Him.
3. The extent. "As dead." It is an infinite blessing to us to be utterly emptied, spoiled, and slain before the Lord. Our strength is our weakness, our life is our death, and when both are entirely gone we begin to be strong, and in very deed to live.
4. The place. "At His feet." It matters not what aileth us if we lie at Jesus's feet. Better be dead there than live anywhere else. He is ever gentle and tender, never breaking the bruised reed or quenching the smoking flax. In proportion as He perceives that our weakness is manifest to us, in that degree will He display His tenderness. "He carrieth the lambs in His bosom."
II. THE SAME DISCIPLE RESTORED.
1. By a condescending approach. "He laid His hand upon me." No other hand could have revived the apostle, but the hand which was pierced for him had matchless power.
2. The communication of Divine strength. "His right hand" — the hand of favour and of power. There must be actual strength and energy imparted to a swooning soul, and, glory be to God, by His own Holy Spirit, Jesus can and does communicate energy to His people in time of weakness. He is come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly. The omnipotence of God is made to rest upon us, so that we even glory in infirmities. "My grace is sufficient for thee, My strength is made perfect in weakness," is a blessed promise, which has been fulfilled to the letter to many of us. Our own strength has departed, and then the power of God has flowed in to fill up the vacuum.
3. A word from the Master's own mouth. Truly there are many voices and each has its significance, but the voice of Jesus has a heaven of bliss in its every accent. Let but my Beloved speak to me, and I will forego the angelic symphonies. Though He should only say, "Fear not," and not a word beyond, it were worth worlds to see Him open His mouth unto us. But you say, can we still hear Jesus speak of us? Aye, by His Spirit.
III. THE SAME DISCIPLE STILL FURTHER INSTRUCTED.
1. As to the Lord's person — that He was most truly Divine. Art thou afraid of Him, thy Brother, thy Saviour, thy Friend? Then what dost thou fear? Anything of old? He is the first. Anything to come? He is the last. Anything in all the world? He is all in all, from the first to the last. What dost thou want? If thou hast Him thou hast all.
2. As to His self-existence. Creatures are not living in themselves: they borrow leave to be; to God alone it belongs to exist necessarily. He is the I AM, and such is Christ. Why, then, dost thou fear? If the existence of thy Lord, thy Saviour, were precarious and dependent upon some extraneous circumstances thou wouldst have cause for fear, for thou wouldst be in constant jeopardy.
3. As to His atoning death.
4. As to His endless life.
5. As to His mediatorial office.Conclusion: The glory and exaltation of Christ is —
1. The saint's cordial.
2. The sinner's terror.
3. The penitent's hope.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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: