The Laodicean Church
Laodicea. (3:14-22) The identification of Jesus here as Faithful and True(3:14) is clearly meant to let the Laodiceans know of His unerring diagnosis. He cannot be wrong about the assessment to follow. “May I have your attention please! I know what I am about to say is true…”
(3:15-16) Is it conceivable to comfortable Westerners that Jesus is saying here that He actually prefers an enemy to a “sometime” friend? How often we deceive ourselves into thinking that Jesus must be happy with whatever He can get from us. Okay, we reason, I’m not perfect, but I’m not as bad as I used to be, and look at all the folks in worse shape. Jesus ought to be so happy with me! This Pharisaical attitude brings on us the fires of purification if not something worse.
I suppose that the scariest part of this message is that Laodicea is unaware of its poverty (3:17) as much as – it seems- Smyrna is unaware of its riches (2:9).
(3:18) The counsel of “buying” from God brings us back to Isaiah, in chapter 55. Here the prophet invites God’s people to buy their necessities without money, and to listen to God, for their needs to be met. In Revelation, God’s gold is similarly offered, but the price for such gold may be the fire. The cost of fine spiritual clothing to cover our nakedness before Him is all-out commitment to Christ. The price of spiritual eyesight is a substance known only to Heaven and purchased there. We can only imagine how high that price is.
(3:19) We’ve heard our parents say things like this: “I only spank you because I love you!” We forget where they got this idea, and that it really is true. God the Father knows how to raise kids. These words to Laodicea echo the Hebrew letter, 12:5, “Whom the Lord loves He chastens,” and this itself is a quote from Psalm 94:12.
As with all the other churches, every age, not just our own, has a church like this. Lukewarmness crosses all the generations. Here are Christians who believe they have it all, but have nothing. Here are satisfied materialists who show up at church, but who seem absent from the Lord. Jesus stands at the door (3:20) of such a Church, pleading to come in. As always. Any member of the church that hears the pleading will be blessed.
The Laodicean Church, and all Laodicean types today, can be grateful that this letter amounts to a severe warning and not an announcement of a judgment to come “regardless.” What starts out as that message of doom turns into a serious shaking into awareness, a pathway out for those who desire it.
Once more the overcomer is promised a reward, for even in Laodicea overcomers exist and get the message. Here the victorious one is actually promised a place on the Throne with Jesus. Did ever a people have more to look forward to? Think of it! Food from the tree of life, freedom from eternal death, personalized identification from God Himself, power over the nations with Jesus, an entry into the registry of Heaven, absolute sinless perfection as though sin had never spotted the garments, the security of being an actual “pillar” in God’s Temple.
One final promise is made in 21:7: The overcomer will inherit all things. And that person will actually be called a son of the living God.
Oh! Then how shall I overcome, Lord? Show me the way! Let me not miss this! That way is begun in the Book of Revelation itself, 12:11. We “overcome” by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That is, what Jesus did for us on the cross, and telling others what Jesus did for us at the cross. And don’t forget the rest of that verse: “they did not love their lives to the death.” For the overcomer it is “all for Jesus, all for Jesus, all my being’s ransomed powers…all my days and all my hours.”(from the Mary D. James hymn)
Overcoming, like many subjects in Revelation, is not new to this last book. In Romans 12:21, Paul tells us not be be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good. And in John’s first epistle, the “fathers” and the “young men” in Christ are told that they have already overcome the wicked one because the Word of God lives in them (I John 2:13-14). Even “little children”, in the Spirit, (I John 4:4) have overcome the world because the One in us is greater than the one in the world.
It is John again who lays the foundation for the overcoming doctrine of the believers in John 16:33 when he quotes Jesus as saying that we believers will have trouble, but we can be happy because Jesus “has overcome the world.”
In summary, Jesus is already the Overcomer. He, His Word, His Spirit are in me. As I continue in His life, I am an overcomer too. And if an overcomer, an heir to every promise given, that wonderful list of blessings handed down to us so forcefully in these seven up-to-date and very important letters.