Summary: Warner Sallman was a gifted American artist and illustrator. During WWII his popular and sympathetic Head of Christ inspired and comforted millions. More that 500 million copies of his portrait have been printed.
THE REVELATION OF JESUS
SARDIS - THE DEAD CHURCH
Revelation 3: 1-6
Warner Sallman was a gifted American artist and illustrator. During WWII his popular and sympathetic Head of Christ inspired and comforted millions. More that 500 million copies of his portrait have been printed.
Among his other representations of Christ is a painting of Christ at the Door. This is Sallman’s rendering of Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
The symbolism of this painting is powerful. Jesus is standing patiently at the door, just about to knock. The door itself, unlike any real door, has no outside latch. Sallman understood our verse to be speaking of Jesus’ knocking at the door of an individuals’s life, only to be opened from the inside.
These seven letters to the churches contain much to encourage the faithful, but five of the congregations have members that are ordered to repent. This painting that is based on Christ’s call to the Laodicea church should make us stop and think. Is Jesus knocking at the door of Neighborhood Church? Is He knocking at your door?
Sardis was about thirty miles south of Thyatira, at the foot of Mount Tmolus that rose about 1,500 feet above the valley of the Hermus River. The Turkish town of Sart now occupies the site.
Sardis had been a great city. Seven hundred years before this letter was written Sardis had been one of the greatest cities in the world. It was the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. It’s wealth was legendary, even the river that flowed through the city was said to be lined with gold.
Croesus was the most famous sardian king. He built the city to the point that no one thought it was vulnerable. In 546 BC Cyrus, king of Persia, laid siege to the city and captured it. His men had watched one of the Sardian guards come down and pick up the helmet he had dropped. That night Cyrus’ men went in through the breach in the wall and found no one on watch.
Three centuries later, the army of Antiochus III used the same tactic to conquer the city and again no one was on watch.
Recent excavations have unveiled much information about the city. They found an ancient Christian church building next to the temple to Artemis as well as the largest synagogue ever found with seating for 1,000 people.
I read this past week that the light from the polar star takes thirty three years to reach the earth. That star could have died thirty years ago and it’s light would still be pouring down on earth.
It would be shining tonight as if nothing had happened, living off the light of it’s past. That’s the story of Sardis.
Characteristic vs 1a
Jesus declares to the church in Sardis that He holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. From our study of the vision in Chapter 1 the seven spirits is simply another designation for the Holy Spirit. It makes reference to Isaiah 11: 2-5. The seven stars are the seven pastors of the churches.
The lifeless church in Sardis desperately needs the life giving power of the Holy Spirit. What could be more exciting than for the Lord to bring his hands together so that the pastors are overflowing with the Holy Spirit!
NONE! There are those in the church that have remained, but the church is not complimented at all. Also, notice the lack of persecution.
The only other church not to receive a compliment is the last church, the one at Laodicea.
Criticism vs 1b
The complaint Jesus lodges against this church is that its reputation is faulty. Evidently, others regarded the church at Sardis as a lively church. This church had gained a reputation for being an outstanding church, but it had lost its spiritual punch. Jesus knows differently. The church is spiritually dead.
A corpse may look good, but it is dead!
In our terms, the church was filled with nominal Christians.
Many churches love to be fashionable. They fear to take a stand that would cast them as odd. They want respectability over all. Sad!
Churches can be full of ministries and activity having a reputation as spiritual giants, while at the same time being spiritually dead.
i.e. Harvard & Princeton stated out as Bible Schools. What do we hear from the men and women that graduate from these school? Is there spiritual power there? How about our own church?
Command vs 2-4
The urgent command Christ gives lies in the five verbs he uses, wake up.....strengthen.....remember..... obey ..... repent.
Wake up! Jesus wants the church to be vigilant about spiritual death among Christians. Apathy, laziness and indifference results in spiritual death. Believers need to stay awake.