Summary: Sermon 10 in series dealing with Laodocia and the mediocrity.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“The Mediocre Church”
I. Prologue 1:1-20
The Prologue in chapter one records what John the aging Apostle saw (and heard) including a manifestation of Jesus far different that what John had known previously. The theme of the book describes the time of Jesus’ coming and the events leading up to it. The first chapter also introduces the glorified Christ in contrast to the Christ of the gospels.
Many of those characterizations appear again in His letters to the churches and throughout the book.
II. Jesus’ Messages to the Seven churches 2-3 (Things with are)
A. To the church in Ephesus – the passionless church 2:1-7
B. To the church in Smyrna – the suffering church 2:8-11
C. To the church in Pergamum & Thyatira – the compromising church 2:12-17
D. To the church in Sardis - the dying church 3:1-6
E. To the church in Laodicea -- the lukewarm church 3:14-22
Historical background to Laodicea
This was a very wealthy city. With a considerable Jewish community of 7500 men. It stood at the intersection of a 2 major trade routes on a good highway system. It was famous for their glossy black wool, banking, a school of medicine and resource for an effective eye salve and powder.
Most likely founded by Epaphrus mentioned four times in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Paul wanted to visit them. Epaphrus deeply loved them. Paul sent greetings to them.
Paul instructed the letter to the Colossians to be read to them.
1. Characteristic of Jesus 3:14
"To the angel (pastor) of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
Jesus is the Amen!
The word Amen means true, certain, faithful; and, as used here, it means that he to whom it is applied is eminently true and faithful. What he affirms is true; what he promises or threatens is certain. (Barnes Notes)
He intensifies and strengthens that perception with further words indicating the authority and certainty of what He is about to say to them. Jesus is the faithful and true witness of the ultimate reality. He is the faithful witness ready to issue commendation, rebuke and advice in the present and revelation of the future event. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He doesn’t go around it. He exposes what is and holds it up to the truth of God. The Faithful and true witness designation does not come from the vision of John chapter 1 but from the introduction to the whole book. In chapter 19 He is also called faithful and true mounted on the white horse.
Jesus refers to Himself as "the beginning of the creation of God". This does not mean that Jesus was a created being. It is clear from other passages of Scripture that Jesus is the Creator of all things. Paul addressed that heresy running rampant in Colossae and probably Laodicea as well. Jesus claimed to be the one who created all things. Another possible interpretation is that He is the preeminent one, the supreme creator. In a society ruled by rampant materialism, Jesus wanted them to know that he was the ultimate author and owner of all things. Things should never become more important than Jesus.
2. Commendation 3:4
This is the only church that received no commendation. Jesus could find nothing commendable about the church at Laodicea. There is something about materialism and self-sufficiency that twists everything. Even with some of the churches where Jesus exposed some of their severe deficiencies, he at least found something to commend that they were doing right. Not Laodicea!
3. Correction 3:15
’I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
Jesus immediately launched into His rebuke. Jesus compared their deeds or activities with the despicable city water supply in Laodicea. Water was sparse, so they built an aqueduct to carry water into the city from a source almost 6 miles away. They had one source for cold refreshing spring water and another source of steaming hot water drawn from a hot springs. By the time the water traveled the six mile distance into the city through a dirty stone aqueduct, the cold was lukewarm and bitter and the hot had become lukewarm and useless. Coldwater is useful and refreshing. Hot water is useful. The only use for lukewarm water is to induce vomiting.
We need not try to attribute some meaning to the hot or cold analogy. His point is, the deeds of the Laodiceans were as useless as lukewarm water. One’s deeds or life activity is a significant measure of one’s devotion either to self or Christ. Both cold and hot are useful but lukewarm water is not. Not only were their deeds useless, but they actually nauseated Him.