The Weekend Word
To the Church in Laodicea
- How would you like to be known as the church that made Jesus sick?
- Of the 7 letters this is the most harsh – no commendation at all.
- The city of Laodicea had grown fat and complacent as it became satisfied with its own wealth. It appears the Christians in that city suffered from the same fate. Incredibly, Jesus has absolutely nothing good to say to these believers. Sardis, who also received no commendation from Christ, at least had a small remnant of faithful believers in the church. The same could not be said of Laodicea. They are in the worst shape of all the churches in Revelation. Therefore, they made Jesus sick.
- I could imagine him holding his nose as he delivers the message.
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
- Jesus is the faithful one even though we are faithless. Any faith we have is Jesus’ faith – on loan to us.
- The amen is the guarantee of everything God has said and promised us. The amen is literally Christ himself. Jesus could just as easily say “I am the Amen”.
- Jesus is the one who bares the truth and faithfulness of God. Jesus is the faithful and true witness.
- The beginning of God’s creation = the source of God’s creation. The source, the first cause – he is the beginning.
- This is very similar to what is said by Paul in Col 1:15 … but not quite
- This is very similar to what is being said in John 1:1-3 … but not quite.
- It is not quite because in this passage it speaks of Jesus as the source of God’s NEW creation. Jesus, in Rev 1:5 is called “the firstborn from the dead”. His resurrection is seen as the beginning of God’s new creation ruled by the one who died and was raised never to die again!
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
- This is not to be taken as 3 levels of commitment – Hot – very good; Lukewarm – you have some work to do on your walk and cold – you are on spiritual life support.
- No! Hot & Cold are both good. Hot = healing and invigorating // Cold = refreshing // Lukewarm = worthless – you don’t heal or refresh.
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
- Most churches, like most people, when asked / surveyed how they are doing usually self identify as above average – but is that the case? I am sure that the church population of Laodicea probably thought the stood up pretty well.
- How about us – do our churches invoke healing, refreshing, or vomiting?
- See v.17 for their self evaluation.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
- Isn’t this the way we see ourselves? Doing just fine? But indeed we are as described.
- Jesus assesses them as poor, blind and naked.
- And many of us do not realize that Jesus has the solution / is the solution.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
- Verses 18-20 – the call to repentance.
- Jesus is the only source of goods that will truly benefit and truly last. However, it may only be bought from Jesus – without cost – it is paid for by Jesus.
- ‘may be rich’ – spiritual richness – riches that rust and moth can’t destroy. (Matt 6:19) – our riches stored in heaven.
- Our white garments = our baptismal garments as we clothed our nakedness by putting on Jesus.
- The cure for blindness – is this physical blindness or spiritual?
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
- Zealous – very different from lukewarm.
- Repentance is not a onetime thing.
- Suffering proves Sonship – There is no such thing as “pain-free Christianity and if you hear a pastor preaching otherwise, they are selling you a bill of goods.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
- This is one of the most misapplied verses in the Bible.
- Many times this is mistaken as a picture of decision theology – Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and it is up to you to open that door. Note that in the pictures / paintings, there is no door handle on the outside. The name of the painting is even titled “Christ at Heart’s Door”
- Why is it that most of the paintings look like Jesus is knocking at the back door of a Mexican restaurant?
- The truth of what is happening is Jesus knocking at the door of his own church (not the unbeliever’s heart) as the lukewarm folks have forgotten that Jesus is at the center of their Christian lives. Perhaps other things have crept in – instead.
- But Jesus is putting out the call and his sheep should hear and recognize his voice, open the door and have table fellowship with the Lord.
21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
- Conquers = to overcome the adversity, to keep the faith. This life is a spiritual war; you either conquer or get conquered.
- To be able to sit on Jesus’ throne is quite an honor – pretty unimaginable, and I am sure we can’t quite figure out what that means.
- Jesus is the conqueror.
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
- This letter should drive all readers to take their spiritual temperature today. To evaluate not how you feel about God, but how you feel about your neighbor.
- Are you hot – prepared to be the healing balm of Gilead to hurting souls in need to the comfort of God’s word and grace? Are you cold – prepared to refresh straggling believers in need of the cool, reviving Living Water that is Christ? Are you lukewarm – prepared to do nothing that would benefit anyone spiritually?