I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book (Revelation 22:8-9a).”
I think this account likely shocks many who read it. How could John do this? This is John, the apostle who walked and talked with Jesus. This is John, who was shown amazing things that we can only read about in this book written by his pen. So how could he begin to do what must not be done? Well, because this is John, a sinner like us - a man whose eyes, like ours, can still fail him.
We are made to be awed and to be amazed. Thus, we naturally desire to gaze upon stunning beauty, watch breath-taking acts, and look upon things unprecedented in our experience. We can be thankful that the world God has made allows us to do this often. Yet there is a sharp line that needs to be drawn between awe and worship - there is none to whom we should give ultimate worth other than our God. This is why the angel says to John: “You must not do that!”
While John rightly needed to hear these words, so do we. It is far too easy for followers of Jesus to be tempted to worship and serve “created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).” With our time, money, and passions we can give our ultimate worth to things that are in reality merely idols and lies. Knowing this we can do for others something akin to what the angel did for John. Since we have already found the one who alone is worthy of worship then we can lovingly call each other away from the thing John was tempted to do. When our ultimate affections wander, we can cry out to each other: “you must not do it.”