After finishing his description of the glorified Savior, John describes his reaction. It is the only reaction one could have at such a sight: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17). Like the prophet Isaiah, John was completely undone at the sight of God in His glory. Unlike the prophet, however, he was not viewing this at a distance. In Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet saw God in His temple, surrounded by angels. The Lord was observed at a distance. In Revelation, John is close enough to fall at the Savior’s feet and the Lord is close enough to touch him. What we enjoy as believers is a close and intimate relationship with our Savior. The cross of Christ has closed the distance between us.
The words that Jesus utters when He reaches out to assure John, are the words John had heard many times when Jesus was on earth: “Fear not.” I can only imagine the comfort and the immediate familiarity John might have felt upon hearing those two words. How many times must he have heard them uttered by his Savior? And now to hear them in this context, after seeing the Lord in such a way that exceeded even the transfiguration. “Yes, John, I am the glorified Savior, but I am YOUR glorified Savior. Fear not.”
Next, the Lord reminds John of His deity and why it is we can call Him Savior and Lord: “I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death.”
“I am the first and the last.” He is eternal and He is the final say on all things. He is as much God as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. It is not something we can get our minds around and not something the Lord attempts to explain. He just gives it to us for us to accept.
“I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.” The order is interesting. He does not say: “I was dead and now live.” He says “I am alive! I was dead. Death is no longer a factor! I am alive for evermore! Amen!” Death takes a back seat to the fact that our Savior lives! For us, death is no longer what characterizes us. It is no longer the driving force. It is Christ, and because He lives, so do we!
“…And have the keys of hell and death.” Keys represent power and authority. By making this statement, Jesus is saying, “Not only did I defeat Satan and his power of death over you, I took his keys. Because of Me, he has nothing on you.”