This summary of the 7 messages gives a sneak preview of today’s message as we are looking at the seventh and final message; to the church at Laodicea.
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.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 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. 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. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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. 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. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
This message is perhaps the most well known of the seven messages as it contains the famous words “I stand at the door and knock.” However, there are no commendations offered to this church. After the greeting, Jesus gets right into the problems in this church.
Just 6 miles away from Laodicea is the city of Hierapolis, famous for natural hot springs with healing mineral waters. 10 miles away is the city of Colossae, known for its cold refreshing drinking water. However, Laodicea has no source of hot or cold water. The mineral water of Hierapolis flowed towards Laodicea but by the time it arrived, it was lukewarm. Drinking water for the city had to be drawn in from miles away by a system of pipes, by the time it arrived it was lukewarm.
Spiritually, lukewarm is an apt description for the church at Laodicea. They express mild approval for Jesus but little more. C.S. Lewis says that those who actually encountered Jesus generally had 3 responses: “hatred, terror, adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.” The Laodiceans have accommodated to the local culture and are comfortable with a private individual faith that doesn’t express itself in the activities of day to day life. The response to the lukewarm church at Laodicea from Jesus is sharp “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
There are a few reasons the Laodiceans have adopted this lukewarm attitude. They say ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’” (Rev 3:17) Laodicea was known for its wealthy banks. They were a rich city. They were known for having some of the best clothing around, they were well dressed. Finally, they had a famous medical school that had developed an eye salve believed to heal weak or failing eyesight. All of this added up to an attitude of self-sufficiency. This reminds me very much of our own Canadian culture. In a generally wealthy culture we would like to believe we are self sufficient. If we don’t have it, we can buy it.
The Laodiceans believed that not only were they physical self sufficient, they were also spiritually self-sufficient. They have substituted a vibrant life with Jesus for a life of wealth and self sufficiency. Jesus responds to this attitude: “But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev 3:17) Jesus advises: They should ‘buy’ gold, clothes and eye salve from him. Of course, the real riches of life cannot be purchased. It is only though grace that people can be saved. Only Jesus provides the spiritual clothes that cover the shame of nakedness caused by sin. Only Jesus can provide spiritual eyesight.
It may seem like it, but Jesus here is not angry, he is reaching out in compassion. He is offering what is lacking. Jesus says “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Now here is the famous line: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” This line has become synonymous with evangelism, but Jesus is speaking to people who are Christians. How strange that those calling themselves Christians have shut the door on Jesus. Thus, we discover the reason the church at Laodicea is lukewarm. They have excluded Jesus.
Yet, Jesus has not abandoned them. The solution to the lukewarm church or lukewarm faith is straightforward. Invite Jesus back in. Jesus will come in and eat with that person, which is a Middle Eastern way of saying that Jesus will establish a relationship and covenant with that person. Finally, not only will Jesus eat with that person, they will be lifted up with him to the throne of God.
This takes us back to the opening greeting of this message. ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.” Jesus is saying that he is “the utterly trustworthy foundation of life”, he is the real deal. The Greek word for beginning used here is arche, meaning the origin of a sequence or “that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause.” Jesus is saying he is the source and origin of all life. His blood flows in our veins. We were created by him and designed for a relationship with him. Is it any wonder that we cannot escape Jesus? Him image is stamped on every cell of our bodies and every cell of creation. What an amazing picture!
Let me summarize this message and this series from one of the commentaries I’ve been reading: “…the message of Jesus into the lives of the members of the seven churches leaves nothing intact. It insists on vital changes not only at the individual level, but also at the social level of “structures that enslave and deceive the people. That is to say, the religious aspect of life is so interrelated with other aspects, economic, civic, and legal – even in our so called ‘secular’ world – that a religious change effected by Jesus would have to affect the rest of existence.””
People cannot exclude Jesus from all or part their lives and expect to have a vibrant faith. A lukewarm faith is troublesome because “Given who he is, Jesus Christ deserves a vigorous, robust, wholehearted zeal.” The call from Jesus is clear: Let me in!
What is your response to Jesus? He stands at the door of every heart and knocks. Perhaps you’ve never invited Jesus in. Will you invite him in now? Maybe you’ve invited Jesus in, but you’ve drifted away over time, or you’ve only ever allowed Jesus into the living room of your life. Will you invite Jesus into the rest of your life; into the rooms called money, sex, past wounds, bitterness, family and time? Only through Jesus, the origin and creator of all life, can our desires be properly and truly satisfied. Only Jesus is the true source of all that we need and desire in life. Open the door and he will come in!
 Again I am highly indebted to a book called Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell Johnson for this series. Most of the ideas and research I have presented in this series are his.
 Craig L. Blomberg From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation, pg 525 quoting Eugene Peterson Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination, pg 51, 52
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 118
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 122
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 125
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 116
 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
 Craig L. Blomberg From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation, pg 525
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 121