These verses serve as advice to 2nd-century followers of Jesus (probably Jewish Christians). Times were difficult for them politically and religiously. They had been scattered from their homelands and were in the minority, trying to live counter-cultural lives.
Are you good at resting, at taking a Sabbath day each week? Do you find time to let work, to-do lists, and menial tasks go? God’s true “Sabbath rest” comes not just from resting or taking a break, but from resting from our own works. Why is this delineation important?
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in the past? Maybe you can’t let go of a hurt caused by someone. Or perhaps, you have guilt about something you’ve done. Maybe you simply relish the ‘glory days” of a season in life that was particularly good, and you find yourself unable to move forward.
Philadelphia receives an encouraging word. In a place often devastated by earthquakes, they will be made a pillar in the temple of God for their faithful endurance. The church is enduring as a small minority up against Rome and a Jewish community who both have civic status, official public buildings, community life, and power.
To the church in Thyatira, they have all they need. We are asked by God to hold onto what we have until he comes again. What we have is a new life in Christ. We have been redeemed. We are the saints of God equipped for service. Are you holding onto what you have? Or do you desire more? To desire more, in this context, the new teaching of “Jezebel,” is to completely misunderstand what we’ve been given.
Smyrna is rich because if they continue to endure, their afflictions they will be given life and wear the victor’s crown. We should not fear the first death nor the final judgment for Christ has defeated death. We too believe and can sing with our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters: Christ is risen from the dead, Trampling down death by death, And upon those in the tombs Bestowing life!
Affirmation-Correction-Promise is the typical pattern of God’s word to the seven churches. As we read the words to the seven churches throughout the remainder of the week, I invite you to discover which two churches are the exception to this rule. I also want to invite you to think about which church or churches are you most like?
John is a companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus. In many ways, this is a beautiful summary of who the church is called to be until we get to the end of the vision, the end of the age when Christ comes and makes the new heaven and new earth. We are sufferers. Jesus didn’t come to redeem us from the suffering in this life. Rather, he came to redeem us through suffering.
Revelation, like all of scripture, is a blessing to those who read it aloud and to those who hear it and take it to heart. Long before digital media and printing presses, scripture was read in community. No one had personal copies to read whenever they wanted. Someone would read aloud while the rest of the community listened.
When we love like Jesus, we have the eyes of Jesus. We see what Jesus sees through the eyes of love. As Jesus entered Jericho, he saw a familiar city, a tree-lined street, a crowd cheering and expectant, and a great opportunity to reach an entire city. This was not all he saw, however.
If we love like Jesus, we must live like Jesus. Love is a verb, an action. Love may begin with a feeling or desire, but if it doesn’t move us to action, it soon grows cold and changes little, if anything.
…..love ONE ANOTHER…” Paul had a whole list of “one anothers”. In case you’ve forgotten, or maybe you’ve never heard or read, here is a shortlist: submit to one another forgive one another encourage one another
Jesus loved people more than he loved the rules. The Jewish Law was very clear, no work on the Sabbath. Yet, here in the Temple compound, Jesus healed a lame man. Worse yet, he told the man to pick up his mat and walk. This was a double violation!
Loving like Jesus can be uncomfortable. Peter was right when he said Jews weren’t supposed to enter the houses of Gentiles. I believe he might have hesitated at the door. Once inside, it probably felt uncomfortable touching the uncleanliness of a Gentile home.
This familiar story of Jesus is reaching out to the most unlikely people. For the whole story, we can read beginning at verse 4. Here, Jesus is speaking with a woman alone, a Samaritan, an adulteress! Imagine how shocked his disciples were. They had never seen the likes, or heard the likes