“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, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV)
I still remember where I was when the question came. We had just started the drive to school when one of my young carpool passengers piped up from the back seat and asked, “Miss Marissa, how old will you be when Christopher graduates from high school?”
Fighting back tears, I struggled to figure out the answer to her question. I had recently finished treatment for a rare cancer called angiosarcoma. I was begging the Lord for another year or two but didn’t dare let myself think about attending my second-grader’s graduation.
We find many reasons for fear in this life, and death is often at the top of the list.
Whether it’s cancer or a contagious new virus, reminders of our mortality can shake our security and peace. Christ’s promise of eternal life soothes our doubts about eternity, but we might fear the process of dying or dread the loss of our loved ones.
In the book of Revelation, God gives us hope as we face all our fears. He pulls back the curtain of heaven to show us the present reality of Christ’s reign and the future consummation of His triumph over the grave. Turning our eyes to victorious Jesus gives us hope and comfort in the face of death.
In today’s key verse, John has seen the Lord standing in the midst of the seven lampstands. (Revelation 1:12-16)
John falls on his face in reverent awe of the power and majesty of Christ: “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, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades’” (Revelation 1:17-18).
In Christ’s words, we find a command —“fear not”— and three reasons to trust Him. We can live fearlessly in a frightening world because of who Christ is, what He has done and what He will do.
Jesus is the first and the last. The Son was with the Father in the beginning, and He will reign forever. Through Him, we have a living hope that will never end.
Jesus died and rose again. Christ died the death we deserved and secured our eternal life. His resurrection guarantees the future resurrection of all who belong to Him. Because He lives, we also will live.
Jesus has “the keys of Death and Hades.” Christ’s resurrection also demonstrates His dominion over the grave. Death may break our hearts now, but its impact is fleeting because of the eternal victory He has won. Revelation promises that when Christ returns and makes His dwelling with us, there will be no more death, no more pain and no more tears.
Christ’s victory isn’t just a future expectation; it’s a present reality. God has conquered death and given you new life. (2 Corinthians 5:17) And one day soon, He will make all things new. This is the message of Revelation that brings hope and light to our deepest fears and darkest moments.
When my carpool passenger asked me that memorable question years ago, I couldn’t fathom being alive in 2022 for my son’s graduation. But God has mercifully preserved my life and health, and I’m hopeful I’ll be there, holding a tear-stained tissue, as my son receives his diploma.
But if I once again walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I have these reasons to fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)
My Shepherd is the Alpha and Omega.
My Savior died and rose again.
My Sovereign Lord holds “the keys of Death and Hades.”
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to conquer death and rise again to give me eternal life. When I struggle with fear, help me turn my eyes to my victorious, risen Savior and remember the promises of Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (ESV)
John 14:18-19, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” (ESV)
We get it — Revelation is hard to read and understand. It can be scary reading about fire and dragons and the world ending. But, we don't have to fear because the end of this story is good. Our redemption will be made complete. Jesus is coming back, and He says: “‘ … Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:5, ESV, emphasis added). Join us as we study Revelation: All Things New in the First 5 app on July 20! Order the Experience Guide here.
For more encouragement, connect with Marissa Henley on her blog or in the First 5 app.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What are you afraid of today? How does God’s Word give you comfort as you remember the truth of who Christ is, what He has done and what He will do? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
© 2020 by Marissa Henley. All rights reserved.
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