The letters from Jesus found in Revelation 2 and 3 contain two things everyone of us needs to navigate life’s trials: a picture of Jesus and a promise from Jesus. When you’re going through hard times, you need to see Jesus, who is above your circumstances, and when you’re battling fear and anxiety, you need a promise you can cling to.
Why did Jesus send these letters from heaven?
The immediate reason was the church in Asia was going through tough times. Bad teaching was circulating inside the church and people were being led into harm’s way.
At the same time, the church was being attacked from no less than three external sources: religious Jews, idolatrous pagans, and imperious Romans. The Jews hated the church because it was full of uncircumcised law-breakers who revered a dead Nazarene as the living Son of God. Pagans opposed the church because it took customers away from the lucrative idol trade. And the Romans oppressed the church because they perceived it was a threat to the empire.
Following Jesus in first-century Asia was no walk in the park. You risked losing your job, your home, even your life. Christians were beaten and murdered simply for believing in the name of the Lord.
It must have broken Jesus’ heart to see his church suffer, so he did something he’d never done: He sent letters. From heaven. He responded to the bad news of their circumstances, by proclaiming the good news of his kingdom, and by sending pictures and promises.
The pictures and promises of Jesus stir our faith. They lift us from the depths of despair to the highlands of hope. They remind us that what we see is not all there is, and that no matter how bad things get, Jesus is always with us.
The promises in these letters are extraordinary and they are for all of us. The Lord’s promises, if you receive them with faith, will guide and strengthen you through life’s trials.
Yet the promises in these letters do even more than that. Collectively, they trace the full arc of humanity’s story—a story that begins in the Paradise of Eden (Ephesus) where we fell and reaped the curse of death (Smyrna). The story wanders through the manna-laden wilderness (Pergamum), to the heralded arrival of King with authority over the nations (Thyatira). The story then proceeds to the Day of Judgment and the opening of the Book of Life (Sardis), before leading us to a heavenly city, a heavenly temple (Philadelphia), and the very throne of God (Laodicea).
The letters from Jesus speak to us at multiple levels. They address personal issues and universal ones. They unveil God’s unchanging purposes for humanity, and they reveal your place in his eternal dream.
The seven letters from Jesus are no mere letters. They are the Gospel of Jesus as preached by Jesus. They are an invitation to partake in his divine life.
And they reveal that no matter how history may twist and turn, God’s good purposes will always come to pass.
Extracted and adapted from Letters from Jesus, a finalist at this year’s International Book Awards.