The Church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22): As we begin to look at the message to the Laodicean Church, we again see how Jesus identifies Himself is a significant part of the message He gives. To Ephesus, which had left their first love, he appeared as the light to lead them back out of darkness. To Smyrna, who had stood fast against persecution, He was the resurrected Lord who would give them eternal life. To Pergamos, who had compromised their doctrine, He was the Sword of the Lord, the Living Word who would purify their doctrine with truth. To Thyatira, who had allowed Jezebel to seduce them and lead them back to paganism, He was the Son of God who is truth and the One who frees us from sin. To Sardis, who had died to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, He revealed the Holy Spirit- the seven Spirits of God needed by all the churches if they are to walk in the newness of life Christ has for them. To Philadelphia, the faithful church, He showed Himself as the Holy and True one who would open and close doors to ensure they inherited the treasure laid up for them. But in His revelation of Himself to Laodicea, He reveals Himself as the faithful and true witness; exactly the opposite of what the church at Laodicea had been. He identified Himself as the Beginning of the creation of God, suggesting that the Laodiceans had become so compromised they had to start again at the beginning if they were to be the new creation they should have become.
The message Jesus has for the Church at Laodicea is extremely harsh. He has something good to say about every other church, but there is nothing good in Laodicea. Their works were neither cold nor hot; they were vain and conceited, and they boasted of a spiritual wealth they didn’t have. In their pride, they failed to recognize their spiritual need.
The consequences of these shortcomings were drastic. Because of their” lukewarmness,” Jesus said He would vomit them out of His mouth- they would no longer be in Christ. That speaks volumes to what some in the Church are teaching today. The false doctrine of “Free Grace” encourages lukewarmness. If all I have to do is love God, why do I have to change anything. I can go on living like I want to and still be okay when He comes back. Except if our works are lukewarm, God will vomit us out of His mouth. And only those who are in Christ are going to be a part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus said is the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” If we love with all that is within us, we are passionate, filled with zeal and eager to be obedient. In other words, we are on fire for Him. That’s what the song “A Soul on Fire” is all about. God doesn’t want just a part of your life, He wants all of it. That’s why we have to die to self, daily. Or if you’re like me, sometimes hourly. To be hot for something means we are willing to do whatever it takes to gain it. To be cold is to be totally opposed to something; to turn a “cold shoulder” to it. Luke-warmness consists of indifference. “Oh, it would be nice if I have it, but I can do without it. It’s just not worth working for.” If we are cold, God can touch us and change our heart. If we’re hot, God has touched us and changed our heart. But if we are lukewarm, even though God is trying to get us to come to Him, we don’t feel like it’s worth the time and trouble, and we ignore His call.
But that was only part of the problem with the Laodiceans. They were so satisfied with their condition, they felt like they really didn’t need what God was offering them. Laodicea was a wealthy city, and the inhabitants there had little material need. Besides, they already knew Jesus and ‘loved’ Him, so they thought they were okay. But they were blinded to their spiritual needs. Jesus said they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. The word translated ‘wretched’ means distressed. One of the definitions of distressed is “impoverished.” The definition of ‘impoverished’ is “made poor.” Although the Christians at Laodicea thought they were rich, they had been made poor. Remember, Jesus is speaking spiritually. If we think we have a relationship with Christ when we don’t, we are destitute spiritually. If we have had a relationship with Him, and we let somethings steal it from us we are wretched; made poor and impoverished. Jesus also says they were miserable. The Greek word used means pitiable- worthy of pity. When we think we are okay with God, and aren’t, we are worthy of pity.
Jesus also identifies them as being ‘poor.’ One definition of the word is “powerless to enrich.’ Using this definition of poor, we see Jesus saying you are worthy of pity, because you are destitute spiritually and you have no power within yourself to make yourself spiritually well-off. All of us are poor in that respect. There is no one who is able, by his own efforts, to make themselves acceptable to God. It is only through the salvation Jesus offers us that we can become spiritually rich.
The next thing Jesus says about them is that they are blind. The Greek word used means to ‘cover, as with a callus; to harden.’ Used as a metaphor, as it is here, it means to ‘have the senses dulled.’ Again, Jesus is speaking spiritually, so He is saying the Laodiceans have no spiritual ability to sense their lostness; they are spiritually blind. Lastly, Jesus says, they were naked, or unclothed. They were without the spiritual robes of righteousness only God can provide. We have just described the condition of the natural man: wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. If we have not become the new creation God wants us to be, we are without hope in this world. It is even worse for present day Laodiceans, because once they were in Christ- they had that Godly relationship- but they were such a sour taste to Him, Jesus has vomited them out of His mouth.
But, as always, in his love for them, Jesus has a remedy for their condition. They think they are wealthy, but they have nothing, spiritually. So Jesus tells them to “Buy gold from Me.” They need to lay up treasure in heaven, rather than on earth. Notice the “gold” they are to purchase from God is refined gold. It had gone through the fire and been purified. The Laodiceans- both present day and New Testament ones- have to earn their treasure by passing through the fire of testing. Then Jesus tells them to get garments from Him to cloth their spiritual nakedness. They needed robes of righteousness and garments of salvation and of praise. These can only be obtained through a right relationship with Jesus. They needed to anoint their eyes so they could see. Laodicea had a medical school located there which was noted for its healing eye salve. But Laodiceans needed the Balm of Gilead, the healing touch of Jesus, to open their blind eyes.
The Laodiceans were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked, but they did have one thing going for them. Jesus loved them. In spite of their terrible spiritual condition, Jesus revealed Himself to them and told them, Hey, I love you! I Can heal you! Get serious about serving Me and repent. I love you so much, I’m waiting outside the door of your heart, knocking; entreating you to allow me to come in. If you’ll only open your heart, I’ll come in and we will have such a precious fellowship it will change your condition. You will feed on the Bread of Heaven and drink of the living water I offer. That will strengthen you and enable you to overcome, and you will sit with Me on My throne. That is the vastness of the love of God. Truly it is an amazing love.