Jesus shows different aspects of Himself to address the specific needs of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation. We learn not just about Jesus but the wisdom of applying the right advice to the need of the situation and person.A detailed mind-map study of the seven churches can be found here, Lessons from The Seven Churches of Revelation.
A mind-map that relate Jesus' appearance and the churches is:
The Ephesus church had heeded Paul's warning of the coming of the false teachers, so they were very careful and sensitive to the preaching of false doctrine. However, they overdid it. Their love for doctrine takes precedence over love for Jesus. Jesus reminded them that He is the Head of the Church and demands their first love for Him.
It is very easy for us to replace Jesus with our own liking and this takes place very subtly without our knowing. It is easy to make a good thing to become our idol replacing God. For Ephesians, it is the doctrine. Knowing the right beliefs is good and right. However, it cannot replace Jesus. We must first love Jesus and also the right doctrine too. For modern day people, it could be the good things that we do such as charity work, giving to the needy, and even doing mission work. Such is good work, but they cannot replace our relationship with Jesus. Let not any activity replaces our time and love with Jesus.
2. Jesus as Eternal Life to the Church at Smyrna
The believers were under severe persecutions. But Jesus assured them He is the one true eternal life. They may kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.) He is the source and given for eternal life.
3. Jesus as the Word of Truth to Pergamum
The two-edged sword represents the Word of Truth. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. They have compromised the truth and allow the infiltration of the teaching of Balaam (idolatry and sexual sins, seducing) and Nicolaitans (dominating people, compromised doctrine). This church is the opposite of Ephesus, the place 'love' more than truth and compromise the truth. The only way to differentiate the false from the truth is to go by the Word of God. When you are not too sure what is right or wrong, then go back to the Word of God, the Bible. to discover the truth. Please make sure you follow the right way to interpret the Bible too. Distortion, taking the Word out of its context, quoting a subset of the Word leads to false doctrine. We need to be aware of that.
4. Jesus as the Judge to Thyatira
Fire represents brightness and clarity. Jesus is the know-all and know-inside-out Judge. Bronze represents judgment in the Bible. While in Ephesus and Pergamum, Balaam, the prophet that failed to curse the Israelites, was mentioned. But here, Jezebel, the queen, the one in power was mentioned. It shows that the false doctrine has taken charge in the church. The church was under darkness and dominated by sinful people with their false doctrines. They were not repentant of their sins. Hence, Jesus advised them to judge and cast out such people. It is a difficult task because such people were already in power. Jesus will raise up people to overthrow them. Under such situation, some people may leave the church. Some people may be called to stay to revile and transform the church. May God give such wisdom and support to re-establish the right teaching and right church leadership under Jesus. One day, everyone will have to give an account of his life to Jesus the Judge. Are you prepared? How are you living this life?
5 Jesus as God the Spirit & Power to Sardis
This Sardis church is what Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. They had many religious activities. People and themselves thought that they were alive in God. But they were actually dying! They had allowed outward activities to replace inward spiritual lives with God. John 4:24 God is a spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. Are you worshipping God in spirit and truth and not just in activities even of singing spiritual songs!
Does your outward behavior correspond to your inward belief? Do you still have the spiritual fire burning within?
6 Jesus as the Authority/King to Philadelphia
Like Smyrna, this church had no rebuke from Jesus. They obeyed the Word and they boldly testify before men for God. God will protect them and cause others to bow down to them. They will be given crown and reign with Jesus.
7 Jesus as the Blesser of True Blessings to Laodicea
Laodiceans went after material wealth instead of spiritual wealth. They were indifferent to godly things. Jesus invited them to have a true relationship, the most valuable thing, with Him. Their hunger and happiness could not be satisfied with materialistic things. Only a relationship with Jesus can provide real and lasting satisfaction and happiness. Are you trying to find happiness in material things? You will not satisfaction there. Come to Jesus for the real and satisfying experience. Jesus is the true source of all creation and is waiting for you to invite Him in.
Do you know Jesus as the
- Head of the Church?
- Giver of Eternal Life?
- Word of Truth?
Lim Liat (c) 14 Oct 2015
Next: 7 Management Principles of Jesus in His Letters to the Seven Churches...
See also: Lessons from The Seven Churches of Revelation