When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (NIV)
Compassionate ministry calls for the necessity of touch. A hand on a shoulder or holding someone’s hand while they work through a difficulty in their life or while the Holy Spirit convicts of sin is a sign that you care and want to be of assistance. Of course, in our present culture we need to be sure we ask for permission to touch.
Throughout his teaching ministry, Jesus gained a reputation for reaching out and touching people. When people with leprosy cried out to be healed, Jesus touched them. He touched the eyes of people who were blind. Touch was an integral component to Jesus’ healing ministry.
We see the gift of Jesus’ touch in this passage of Revelation as well. John fell at Jesus’ feet – as though he were dead – because he could not remain standing in the Lord’s presence. Jesus responded to John’s fear by reaching out, placing his right hand on him – a gentle touch, and saying, “Do not be afraid.”
What a calming touch Jesus provided! What powerful words of assurance he spoke! This story does more than just provide a picture of what happened to John on the island of Patmos when he stood face to face with Jesus. This reveals who Jesus is as the ascended and exalted Son of God: Jesus is the Lord of love and compassion. Just as when Jesus came to bring the good news of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-34), touch is central to his healing ministry.
I believe that the Spirit of God invites us to see ourselves in this picture. Jesus reaches out to us. He puts his right hand on us, in a world of uncertainty, and says these powerful words to us: “Do not be afraid.” May we be comforted today by Jesus’ touch, his words of assurance, and his presence that removes our fear.
Lord Jesus, when we feel overwhelmed or alone or in need of healing might we feel your touch. Lead us more and more into the embrace of your loving touch. Amen.