Jesus also visited John on the island of Patmos. It appears very much that the visit was NOT a vision, and that it was a definite reality.
I suggest that when Jesus came to Saul (when Saul was on his way to Damascus,) that this was also a literal event. Later, Paul asked the Corinthian believers, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not SEEN Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1Cor 9:1.)
Here he claims to have seen Jesus, and I believe that the prior event, near Damascus, was the event he refers to.
Newbie, is it possible that the idea that Jesus will not set foot on the earth prior to the 3rd Coming, is over-stepping the mark, as it were? Yes, it is a common thought now, but I don’t think we are actually told that. The main warning/restraint is that the literal, collective, MEETING of the Redeemed [with Jesus] will take place “in the air”. (1Thess 4:17.)
You are bringing good thoughts, Newbie, and I do not want to discourage you in any way!