“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
I am so thankful that I have a Savior who not only is fully God, but also fully man. Completely able to understand my struggles, temptations and circumstances. He was the same Savior who spoke to the seven churches in Asia Minor almost 2000 years ago.
Our Pastor is currently preaching through the letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation. One recurring theme that leapt off the page two Sundays ago was the fact that Jesus uses specific titles to describe himself when addressing each different local church. Each of the titles correspond to the vision of Jesus that John saw in chapter 1 as well as the specific situation each church found itself in. Check it out –
To Ephesus, the church who did well, but lost its “first love” Jesus is the one who walks among the churches and knows their hearts!
To Smyrna, the church suffering great persecution, imprisonment and death Jesus is the one who had died and who came to life again!
To Pergamum, the Roman province that enjoyed the protection of the Roman sword Jesus is the one who speaks with the ultimate double-edged sword from His mouth!
To Thyatira, the small but powerful city that worshiped Apollo, the sun god. Apollo was the son of the “almighty god” Zeus. The worship of the son was alive and well among the citizens of Thyatira so Jesus Christ begins His words to the Thyatiran Christians with that glorious title, “The Son of God”[!]. Thyatira was also known for their metal trade and were regular producers of bronze for the Roman soldier’s uniforms. The Son of God comes with feet shod with burnished bronze!
To Sardis, the city on a hill. Atop a 1500 foot plateau to more precise. Surrounded by cliffs on all sides save the South. A city that thought itself unassailable. So much so that it posted no guards around the cliffs and neglected to “keep watch!” A city who’s works were “incomplete in the sight of my God.” To Sardis, Jesus is the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. Seven in the Bible is associated with completion or perfection. They were incomplete, Jesus knew this completely. The citizens of Sardis, Christians too, knew what it was like to be surprised. Not once, but twice, did an aggressor scale those cliffs and walk into the city to unlock the gates for an invading army. Keeping watch was an important activity to the inhabitants of the city. Waking up so that they could keep watch was an even more important spiritual warning and activity to the Christians in the Sardis.
To Philadelphia, the city with Christians being shut out of the synagogue by false Jews, Jesus is the one who opens the door to His kingdom that can never be shut by mere men. To the city that suffered the destruction of frequent earthquakes, Christ promises to make those who overcome a pillar in the temple of His God.
To Laodicea, the city filled with Christians who could buy anything, rich from their sale of fine clothing and medicinal eye salve, Jesus calls them to buy gold from him, get his white clothes and his salve for their blind eyes. The very things they put their hope in as signs of spiritual blessing were the very things Jesus said they lacked. He comes as the true riches, the true clothing and the true salve.
I’m so encouraged that our Savior does not merely (though he could!) speak pious platitudes to us. He knows us. He sees our hearts, our deeds. He knows the exact circumstances, cultures, struggles and sins we find ourselves in. Better than we do!
And, he speaks directly to our situation, calling us specifically to repentance that coincides to our present circumstances. Specific encouragement from an intimate Savior.