Jesus' Words To Sardis

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:1-6

Phillip Power, in his book entitled, “A Book of Comfort for Those In Sickness” says, “I should be sorry if, when I saw a man or woman in suffering, I did not feel something.”

By saying that he should be sorry, Power’s is saying:

  • he ought to feel distress, anguish and concern over seeing someone who is suffering.

  • He ought to seek to understand, to feel sympathy for, and to be sensitive to someone else’s misfortune.

  • If Power’s were to see suffering and not feel anything he ought to be overcome by a feeling of regret, misgiving, heartbreak, anguish.

In Luke 10:25-37 we read of the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story Jesus is asked a question by a religious lawyer seeking to justify himself before God. He asks, “Who is my neighbor?” (29)

To answer this question, Jesus says that a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among robbers. They stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. (30)

A priest and a Levite came by and saw him, they passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan came upon the half-dead man and he had compassion and responded in four ways.

  • He went to him

  • bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

  • He set him on his animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

  • The next day he paid the innkeeper saying, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”

Jesus then asked the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

  • The lawyer answered, “The one who showed him mercy.”

  • And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Our text today gives us an opportunity to see a church which is almost dead.

  • Jesus threatens to come against this church like a thief in the night if they do not repent (v.3)

  • But 1st He comes to them like the Good Samaritan to help them become healthy

This church has a reputation for being alive but they are dying. There is no spiritual life in them.

  • The community looks upon them and has nothing bad to say about them. In fact, they often speak well of them.

  • All of the other churches look at the church in Sardis and believe it to be one of the best churches. There are lots of people and it is prospering. But Jesus comes to this church and says, “I know your works. You have the reputation for being alive, but you are dead.” (3:1)

Imagine the shock, anger and disbelief this congregation might feel when they hear these words. [A politician this week got very angry when they were asked if they hated someone. The response of this person was “As a Catholic I cannot hate anyone. How quickly we can get angry when our self-righteousness is attacked.]

If Jesus were there He would say, “I know your works”, and then pause for a moment. Long enough for them to consider their works and to presume that they are about to receive praise from Jesus. Long enough for their pride to rise to the surface.

Then Jesus would say, “You have the reputation for being alive.”. He would pause long enough for their hearts to be filled with delight, pleasure, and self-confidence. They would say to themselves,

  • “We have worked hard for this reputation”,

  • “We have a good reputation both inside this church and out in our community”,

  • “We will protect this reputation at all costs!

  • We have protected our reputation from those few among us who try to trouble us.”

  • A reference to Revelation 3:4 – Ye you have still a few names in Sardis, people who are worthy.

Then Jesus would say these words, “But you are dead”.

  • If we could peer into their hearts in this moment we would see disbelief and anger at the words of Jesus. They would say to themselves, “How dare Jesus say such a thing! Are we not prophesying in your name, casting out demons in your name, and doing mighty works in your name?”

Matthew 7:22-23 - “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your na