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Making Jesus Sick

The problem is that most spiritually sick people do not know they are sick. Not only do they need to know they are sick but also that their sickness makes Jesus sick.


Revelation 3:14-22 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:


These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.


Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.


To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


I used to think I had a strong immune system, but it turned out that I just didn’t have children. Now if I get a week and a half without being sick, I consider it a victory. Usually, if someone can make us sick, stepping away from them is the right reaction, but I cannot do that to my children. Spiritually, there are things in our lives that make Jesus sick but stepping away is not an option for Him because He loves us. Therefore, He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks.


The problem is that most spiritually sick people do not know they are sick. Not only do they need to know they are sick but also that their sickness makes Jesus sick. Rather than stepping away, Jesus stands at the door of their hearts and knocks because He loves them.


As we continue with our series, “Uncovering Revelation,” verse by verse, in Revelation 3:14-22, the church in Laodicea was spiritually sick to the point that they even made Jesus sick, but it seems they did know that they themselves were sick. Though they received the harshest rebuke among the seven churches for their indifference, self-reliance, and self-righteousness, Jesus did not step away but stood at the door of their hearts and knocked because He loved them.


The big idea here is that our spiritual sickness may make Jesus sick to His stomach, yet He refuses to step away but stands at the door of our hearts and knocks because He loves us. The question is, will we open the door?


If the answer is yes, then we must be willing to rid of the source of sickness. Revelation 3:14-22 reveals that the source of Laodicean’s sickness was three problems: the problem of passion, the problem of possession, and the problem of perception.


The Problem of Passion


Revelation 3:14 starts with three titles of Jesus that address Laodiceans’ spiritual sickness that make Jesus sick. Verse 14 reads, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.”


First, the words of the Amen. For us, it is an odd description of Jesus but not for the Hebrew or Greek readers. The English word Amen is a transliteration of the Hebrew word “Amen” which was transliterated into the Greek text. In the Bible, the word Amen is used to affirm the truthfulness of a statement. This is why we say Amen at the end of a prayer. In English, when Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you.” In the Greek that is “Amen, Amen.”


At the beginning of the statement, Amen guarantees what is to be said is true and can be utterly relied upon and at the end of the statement, Amen guarantees it is true and fixed and never to be changed or removed.


Isaiah 65:16 says the God of Amen which indicates God is utterly reliable. Similarly, in Revelation 3:14, the Words of the Amen indicates Jesus, the Son of God is utterly reliable. The Laodiceans needed to rely completely on the Amen, the firm foundation that cannot be moved. For that, they needed to open the door to let Jesus into their hearts.


Second, the words of the faithful and true witness. This description reinforces the title, Amen. Jesus is the only one who has seen and heard God and was faithful in telling the truth even to the point of death and death on the cross. Jesus is the Amen of all the promises of God.


Third, the words of the beginning of God's creation. Some think this verse proves that Jesus was the first in God’s creation. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was a created being and not the creator God. That is a heresy.


In the Greek text, the word translated here as the beginning is arche meaning ruler or origin. The NIV translates the verse as “the ruler of God's creation.” Other translations say, “Originator of God’s creation,” “the origin of God’s creation,” and “the source of God’s creation.”

That is exactly what Jesus is calling Himself— that He is before everything and the beginning of everything. He is the start and source of everything. The Laodiceans were plagued with a heresy that made Jesus less than God.


Therefore, in verses 15- 16 Jesus says, “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” The word translated here as “spit” is emeó which is to vomit, there is another Greek word for spit, but Jesus uses emeo to show His extreme disgust.


The Laodiceans were worse than even Sardis, the dead church, because at least they had some believers. Pastor John McArther describes that the church in Laodicea as “This is a church of nonbelievers.” I would not go that far because the idea of hot and cold in verse 16 prompts the problem of passion and passionlessness and not deadness. Other scriptures prove that.


In Colossians 4, we see that at least 30-36 years before Revelation, it was a church of believers. Talking about Epaphras in Colossians 4:13 Paul writes,“For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.”


We learn two things there: Epaphras may have brought the gospel to the city of Laodicea and Hierapolis and Colossae were neighboring cities. The city of Hierapolis was only seven miles to the north and Colossae to whom the letter of Colossians was written was less than 10 miles to the south of Laodicea.


Hierapolis had hot springs and Colossae was known for its pure drinkable cold water. Laodicea had neither so through pipes, they brought hot water from Hierapolis and cold water from Colossae but by the time it arrived, it was neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.


Hot was valuable for its medicinal properties and cold was valuable for drinking purposes. The lukewarm water lost both purity and purpose. The image Jesus used made perfect sense to the Laodiceans. They had lost their purpose and purity of faith.


In Colossians 4:15, Paul says, Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea.” The word brother in the Greek text is adelphous.. Paul exclusively used this term for fellow believers. This means that at least during Paul’s time, there were true believers in Laodicea.


Next in Colossians 4:16 Paul says, “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.” This means they had access to the Word of God.


So, what happened? If you remember from our verse-by-verse study of the book of Colossians, the main issue there was Christology, which is who Jesus is. Paul's main focus in Colossians was on the sufficiency and preeminence of Christ. In Colossians 1:15-16, we read, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” Now you see why Jesus had to address the Laodiceans as the beginning of God's creation.”


Last week Jehovah's Witnesses missionaries showed up at our door. My wife was at home and once they discovered she was the wife of the pastor at First Baptist they immediately moved on. Today Jehovah's Witnesses are the spiritual descendants of that heresy that plagued the Colossians and the Laodiceans. They deny Jesus’ real and true humanity and full deity. They deny the supremacy, sufficiency, and preeminence of Jesus.


The application for us is simple: do not lose passion for Jesus, or do not become lukewarm, and do not lend your ears to heresies like Jehovah's Witnesses. Jesus is sufficient for all our needs, and He is the beginning of God's creation.


The Problem of Possession


In Revelation 3:16 “I will” in the phrase “I will spit you out” is translated from “mello.” In Greek, it is actually “I am about to vomit you.” This means the intention to carry the action is not completed. The extremely strong warning shows the true intention of Jesus is that He wants Laodiceans to deal with the problem of passion and not be lukewarm anymore.


In Revelation 3:17-18, Jesus lists a set of items that cause the problem of passion. They can be categorized as the problem of possession. Verse 17 reads, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”


The city of Laodicea was known for three things in the whole of Asia Minor. They were known to be a wealthy banking center, their clothing industry because they produced a special black glossy wool, and their medical school, specialized in eye and ear salve.


Their earthly possession produced self-reliance. Jesus contrasts their self-reliance with utterly relying on Jesus. So, He offers counsel in verse 18, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.”


In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus told a parable about a rich man who also had the problem of possession. In Luke 12:19, he comforted himself by saying “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ Luke 12:20-21 continues, “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”


The application is, if you are putting most of your time, energy, and focus on building your life, your image, your body, and your bank balance, then you have the problem of possession. Instead, rely on Jesus and focus on His Kingdom.


The Problem of Perception


Like most Eastern cultures, the perception in Laodicea must have been that prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing and poverty is a sign of a curse. In Revelation 3:19, Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”


This means that Jesus intended to reprove and discipline Laodicea so that they would repent and recover their passion for Jesus. Jesus does that to us too. However, it should never be seen as a sign of a curse but rather a blessing because He tells us that He does it because He loves us.


In Revelation 3:20-22, Jesus declared two promises, “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.” This is the idea of the fellowship that we experience in a family. Jesus is not going to barge in. He will stand at the door and wait.


The second promise is in verse 21, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Jesus closes with the same statement that we have seen in other churches in verse 22, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”


In my grandparents’ house, when for the first time, I saw the poster with Jesus standing at the door and knocking, I thought of a house. The church is God’s house and in Laodicea, Jesus was locked out of His own house. Can you imagine being locked out of your own house?


The application here is that if you never open the door of your heart to allow Jesus to come in and live with you, if you never received His counsel and never knew what makes Jesus sick, do not let today go by without taking the next step by inviting Jesus into your life, by taking His counsel for a lifestyle fit for the Kingdom of God.


As we close, let me share a habit of mine, I just do not like lukewarm coffee or tea. My wife, Sarah, and I usually agree on everything except for a very few things, among which is the temperature of coffee and tea. By the time I am done with my coffee, my wife barely begins hers (therefore, I often end up drinking hers too). So, I do not like lukewarm drinks.


The focus in our text was not on being hot or cold. Otherwise, one may think it is better to be fully devoted to Jesus or not at all. Rather the focus is on not being lukewarm. That’s what makes Jesus puke because that creates and continues the problem of passion, perception, and possession.


The good news is that our spiritual sickness may make Jesus sick to His stomach, yet Jesus loves us so much that He refuses to step away and He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. Do you hear the knock? Will you open the door?


Open the door of your heart. Let Him into your private and public life. If you do that, He will help you to rid the source of your sickness which is the problem of passion, perception, and possession. Jesus in Matthew 6:33 said, “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”


Do not become like the Laodiceans because their confession of faith was rotten to its core. Their diseased testimony made even Jesus sick. They kicked Jesus out of the church, out of their personal life, and out of their public life. Jesus is standing at the door and knocking. He wants to come into your heart and have eternal fellowship. Don’t keep Him waiting any longer. Let Him in.


Study Questions


1. What did Jesus reveal about Himself in Revelation 3:14?What is the significance of each characteristic in dealing with the problem of being “neither cold nor hot” in Revelation 3:15 and Jesus’ admonishment in Revelation 3:16?


2. Why does Jesus desire the Laodiceans to be either hot or cold (v15)?


3. In Revelation 3:21 Jesus says, “I will grant him to sit with me on my throne.” What does this mean?


Deeper Study Questions


1. Jesus said, “those whom I love, I reprove and discipline (v19).” How does this help you cope when you feel that God’s hand has been heavy on (against) you?


2. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” How do you interpret this verse?


3. Discuss how you first heard Jesus’s voice and opened the door of your heart for Him. How do you feel about the statement, “I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me (v20)” today?


Personal Study


Jesus’ address to all seven churches in Revelation 2-3 has a specific pattern. To better learn to how to make observations in Scripture, spend a few minutes seeing the pattern by inserting the correct verse against the statement below, focusing only on 3:14-22.

  • Specific church addressed

  • Description of Jesus

  • Jesus commends the church

  • Jesus rebukes the church

  • Jesus gives a solution for the rebuke

  • Jesus gives a high-stakes warning

  • Jesus’ promise for those who conquer


Read More





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