We come to the seventh and last letter written to the first-century churches in Asia Minor. These letters are an evaluation by the head of the church of the spiritual condition of each congregation. In them, the Lord gives commendations, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, and promises of reward to those who overcome. All seven of them contain this statement: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” thus implying that these letters are applicable to every Christian congregation till the end of time.
This letter written to the church of Laodicea is the sternest of all the letters; the church had become affected by the smug and self-sufficient attitude of the culture around them. The city of Laodicea was renowned for its prosperity and affluence. It was situated in a fertile valley, at the junction of several important trade routes. This made it strategic for herding, agriculture, and trade. This material prosperity caused the citizens to be proud of their city and their accomplishments. This same spirit of pride was manifested by the church as well, which can be seen in their boasting: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” This reliance on wealth and affluence greatly affected their devotion to Christ. Jesus likens their tepid spiritual condition to lukewarm water that he is about to spit out of his mouth.
But in His abundant grace and mercy, Jesus does not leave them condemned and hopeless, but calls them back to repentance and faith in Him, where they can find true riches and everlasting joy. He assures them that His discipline is out of love for them and that His desire is to renew fellowship with them. He gives them this beautiful promise in verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
We see in this letter how guarded we must be against cultural influences that would cause us to lose our fervent love for Christ.
We also see the glory of our Savior, who takes the initiative to restore this lukewarm church into spiritual health again. He could have given up on them and said: “they are too far gone,” but He doesn’t! This is a tremendous encouragement to any lukewarm believers today. To know that they too can be restored, if they heed Christ’s exhortation. Lastly, we see Christ’s love for us, in His desire to have intimate, spiritual communion with us; what a glorious privilege it is to have the Lord of glory condescend and dwell in our pitiful hearts, as a friend enjoying a fellowship meal with a friend, giving us a picture of the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we will sup with Him in the heavenly Jerusalem.