“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.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 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. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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. 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Big Idea: In this passage, Jesus tells us really bad news. He identifies us with five very uncomplimentary words: wretched, poor, pitiful, blind, and naked! However, if you will acknowledge they represent your condition, you will experience the greatest news in the universe.
What leads someone to this condition of being wretched, poor, pitiful, blind and naked? It begins with forgetting who Jesus is. As we have observed in the previous six letters, Jesus opens each letter with an applicable attribute. In this case, he calls himself “The Amen.” Most likely an allusion to Isaiah 65:16 in which God twice identifies himself as “The Amen.” In our text, Jesus not only equates himself with the Godhead, he tells readers of his sovereign authority to validate and effect everything he promises in this passage to do. That will be very, very good news to those who commit to him as Savior and Lord and very, very bad news to those who refuse to commit or “decommit." Our response must be the one we learned in Revelation 3:3: remember the gospel, obey the gospel by believing it, and then you will repent.
Next Jesus calls himself the “witness, the faithful and true one.” It is no accident that “witness” and “martyr” are the same word in Greek (ὁ μάρτυς). As the “slain Lamb” (5:6), Jesus provides the standard for anyone who would consider himself a witness in Revelation (2:13; 11:3; 17:6). There is ultimately no validity to one’s witness, unless he has suffered and still loves Jesus. The ultimate apologetic for the witness of the Apostles was that each one suffered, most sealed his testimony with his own blood. Elders continue the function of apostles—not in terms of revelation or working miracles—but in terms of shepherding the flock of God with the word of God. It has been my observation that no one remains an elder of a healthy church unless he suffers significantly.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Did either of these uncomplimentary words resonate with you in a particular way? Why so?
- What does this letter have to say to that condition?
- What is the good news of the gospel you can receive, if you will admit your need?