No one talked like Jesus did. I’m blown away lately by how colorful His speech was, how the images He painted speak long after the sounds of His voice have gone. It’s even been a matter of conviction for me lately in my preaching, that metaphors and pictures and illustrations can often say more (or better) what straightforward speech does. I’m learning. That’s another post.
Jesus spoke like certain things were a given. For example, you don’t light a lamp and cover its light. In Luke 8:16-18 Jesus said the whole point of lighting a lamp was to be able to see and be seen. Then He gave us the reason He said it. “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” Light reveals what is there, what is unseen in the darkness.
Jesus is The Light. He reveals everything. He pierces the haze that hangs over the world, revealing everything for what it actually is. So His instruction to us is to be ever mindful of how we listen to Him. Of how seriously we take Him. Since He’ll soon be revealing everything.
Jesus...pierces the haze that hangs over the world, revealing everything for what it actually is.
I wonder if the Church listens to Jesus as closely as we think the world should? I don’t think it’s any coincidence that only one church in Revelation is warned specifically with the words, “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” What was it about the church in Ephesus that caused Jesus to express their specific warning in terms of losing their light?
Well, what had they done? What summarized their backslidden state? They had “abandoned the love they had at first.” I think the reason Jesus warned them the specific way that He did is because there’s such a close connection between what they loved at first and how it made them shine. If we ventured to put our finger on precisely what “the love they had at first” was we could start where they did. In Acts 19. In verses 11-20 of that chapter, the name of Jesus was being proclaimed so loudly, so passionately, that true revival happened. The dead came to life. The whole city was upended. They burned old books. Put false gods out of deceptive business. Confessed their sins to one another. The Word of God increased and “prevailed mightily” there.
...the name of Jesus was being proclaimed so loudly, so passionately, that true revival happened. The dead came to life. The whole city was upended.
Salvation set them on fire and Ephesus came to watch them burn.
Jesus was in their midst. Shining.
But that got old. Passion turned to flame. The inferno of love for Jesus and what He could do when His grace and mercy took hold of a life and changed somebody completely turned to the ever-dwindling embers of, well…just “doing church.” They had morality down pat in Ephesus. They endured. They hadn’t lost their faith. They hadn’t turned their back on Jesus.
When fire for the saving power of Jesus becomes something we warm our hands with instead of something that has set us ablaze, all the light goes out.
He just didn’t torch their souls anymore. And Jesus Himself threatened to “come to” them and remove their lampstand from its place.
And I guess it just struck me. When fire for the saving power of Jesus becomes something we warm our hands with instead of something that has set us ablaze, all the light goes out. An inferno can be seen. A campfire won’t do squat to light up a desert. It warms the hands of those close to it. It doesn’t do anything for those who aren’t. So Jesus says, “I’ll come and take your lampstand away. You won’t shine? Then don’t claim to have light.”
The flames of awe at Jesus were meant to be how we shine. Stoke that fire. Jesus has a real problem with lamps that get lit to stay hidden.