To the Ephesian church He was the one who held the seven stars in His hand and who walked among the seven candlesticks. He was the God in charge of all the churches. This was significant because the Ephesians’ issue was a lack of love. They had so many things in order: works, patience, truth, endurance, laboring for Christ’s name. But they didn’t have love. And love was what Jesus was calling them to return to. Lovelessness results in intolerance of others. This church who had polished the beautiful truth of salvation until it glistened, likely found fault with churches who failed to have the same shine. Jesus’s holding the seven angels and dwelling among all the churches showed them that they weren’t the ones to make the judgement call. He was. They were, instead, accountable to their star-gripper and lamp lighter, who expected them to return to the love they had forsaken. A God who could handle others with mercy without losing His care for these truth lovers was exactly what they needed.
Smyrna knew Him as the First and the Last, the One who was dead but now lives. This would have been important to them. Persecuted and assured of future hostilities, they could find comfort in knowing that the One who’d already suffered was with them through their trials. His name alone would remind them that there would be an end to the trouble and that end would transition gloriously into everlasting life.
For the church at Pergamos, Jesus was the one with a sharp, two-edged sword. The sword, His Word, was the truth that those who dwelt in the seat of Satan, the deceiver, would need. So, Jesus reminded them He was Truth, the sword with which this church could slay the false doctrine that had weakened them.
The corrupt church at Thyatira received notice from the Son of God with eyes like fire and feet like brass. Purity and holiness were what they required to take a stand against the immorality of the spirit of Jezebel, whose namesake’s eyes had been painted with defiance against God’s authority. As God’s Son, Jesus alone could claim control, and the church’s trust in one so ablaze with power could lead them away from compromise, corruption, immorality, and indifference.
As the One with the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, Jesus was the fullness of Heaven, the King immortal. And to a dead church who was going through the motions of righteous living, whose reputation didn’t line up with their actuality, the need was great for the genuine. Sardis needed the fullness of God and His provision for righteousness. They needed watchmen, like the angels in Jesus’ palm, to redirect their steps to the land of real spirit-life. Depending on Jesus’ righteousness and His provision, they’d have enough.
The Philadelphians were a faithful church, but their strength was weak. What more could they desire than to have the one with the key of David, the source of all power, use His power on their behalf? Through Him doors they were too weak to open swung wide, and doors they were powerless to close locked on their behalf. The one who’d opened the way to their salvation was sufficient for their frailties.
For Laodicea, however, Jesus was no door-opener. He was the Amen. The Faithful and True Witness. The Beginning of the Creation of God. The perfect antidote to their indifference. He was definitive. A side-taker. A this-is-how-it-is-and-that’s-all-there-is-to-it God with a distinctive plan. Nonchalance could transform into motivation through that kind of God. Lukewarm could shift to simmer, then boiling, with a real Amen and their alignment with the validator of God’s unchanging, passionate plan of redemption.
I’ve seen all these churches’ weaknesses in myself. A flash of success quickly tipped off-kilter by humanity gone rogue. But Jesus has always been exactly what I’ve needed to get back into the right place spiritually. Like the churches, my candlestick would be nothing more than golden artwork if it wasn’t for Him; He is my oil and my flame. For any deficiency, disappointment, or distress, Jesus fits the bill. That’s why He calls our attention to the flaws. He shows us that where He is absent, there is deprivation, but that in Him there is every sufficiency for our want. He is truth for error, light for darkness, victory for defeat, endurance for weariness, joy for sorrow, fullness for emptiness. Wherever there is lack, He is enough. And wherever there is a sheep, there is a Shepherd. A wonderful Good Shepherd, indeed.
Tip/tidbit: Acknowledge your weaknesses today, and look to Him the Strength you need to overcome.