Thyatira is considered one of the bad churches in the Bible. You may recall they had allowed a woman called Jezebel to preach and she led some of the believers astray. So Jesus sent them a letter where he basically says, “I’m going to deal with this.” He ends his letter with this:
I place no other burden on you. (Rev. 2:24b)
What burdens does Jesus place on us?
The image of Jesus burdening us seems at odds with his promise of a light and easy yoke (Matt. 11:30). But look carefully at what Jesus asks the Thyatirans to do in regards to Jezebel’s deception and you will find… nothing.
Which is astonishing given the mess she’s made.
The letter to Thyatira is sometimes held up as a dissertation on church discipline. This is ironic given the total lack of instruction the Lord provides for fixing their problem.
The saints are not told to deliver the woman to Satan for the destruction of her flesh. Nor are they told to shame or shun those who followed her.
Jesus is not happy about the Jezebel situation, but everything that needs to be done, he himself will do. “I will throw… I will kill…” What is there for the Thyatirans to do but watch as Jesus delivers them from the burden of Jezebel?
The Thyatiran church made a mistake in letting this woman teach, and Christ’s response is, “I got this.” What a stunning picture of Jesus our Deliverer. He does not condemn the saints or threaten them with punishment. He simply promises to fix their mistake.
What a contrast with Adam, the first man.
First Adam failed to keep his garden and, as a result, a serpent got in, deceived his wife, and everybody died. What did Adam do? He ran away from the problem then blamed God and Eve for everything that happened.
Jesus does a far better job protecting his bride. When a serpent came into the Thyatiran garden he did not blame the church for being inattentive. He simply strapped on his bronze snake-stomping boots and dealt with the problem.
I imagine when Jesus’ letter was read out in Thyatira, many breathed a sigh of relief. They knew Jezebel was trouble, but they didn’t know what to do with her. She was divisive and had been warned, but the church couldn’t handle her. It was a horrible situation. Then came good news from Jesus. “Don’t worry. I got this. You don’t have to do anything about Jezebel. There’s only one thing I want you to do…”
Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. (Rev. 2:25)
That’s always the message: Hold fast to Jesus, because in him we have everything we need—love, forgiveness, acceptance, holiness, righteousness. In him we have every blessing, every promise, and everything we need for newness of life. We have the mind of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the faith of Christ. In Christ, we have it all.
“Hold onto that,” says Jesus. “Hold onto me.”
The Thyatirans have an undeserved reputation as one of the bad churches of Revelation. “They lacked morals and doctrinal purity,” said virtually every commentator I read. Yet Jesus says nothing about their lack. Instead, he reminds them of what they possess. “You already have everything they need. Hold on to it.”
Those who say the Thyatirans were broken offer long lists of things they could do to fix themselves. Yet Jesus asked the saints to do one thing and only one thing: “Hold fast to me.” It is the only imperative in this letter.
Christians drift off course when they lose sight of who they are and what they have. Some, like the Galatians, drift into legalism. Others, like the Thyatirans, drift into licentiousness. The remedy in either case is to lay hold of what we have in Christ Jesus. Good preachers, like Jesus and the New Testament writers, are often reminding the saints of what they already have.
Imagine getting a letter from Jesus that said, “You guys are doing great. Keep doing that. There is one problem in your group, but I’ll take care of it. Just keep doing what you’re doing.” That’s basically what Jesus said to the Thyatirans.
Like this? You’ll love Letters from Jesus!
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