Welcome to Hank’s Place
We’re concluding Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. Our takeaway thus far: stop trying to get it right for Jesus, stop our toils FOR Him, but let us remember that place of grace we lived in when we began our walk with Him, receiving the love of God freely.
How about the promise at the end of the letter? “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” In today’s world it sounds mysterious, puzzling to be sure. We have learned that Jesus is THE Overcomer, in us, and us in Him, making us Overcomer — believe it!
How about that “tree of life?” No puzzle for the Ephesians. The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was built on the site of an ancient tree shrine. A date palm tree. It was known as a refuge – as a place of salvation. There were even coins in Ephesus that had a date palm tree, their tree of life and salvation, stamped on them.
So Jesus gives them a promise – using what was very familiar. Beside the sacred tree they all knew, there now grew a new, true, tree of life for the believer. Jesus is giving them a wonderful affirmation of their position in Christ. He is saying that they – as Overcomers – have the right to eat from the REAL tree of life. What an awesome promise!
Let’s move on to the next letter, written to the church at Smyrna, Rev 2:8-11. The picture Jesus gives them of Himself is, “The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life.” Smyrna worshiped Dionysus, the Greek god of wine – who supposedly was killed and was brought back to life by his father Zeus. So when Jesus presents Himself as the Resurrected One, He is saying, ‘I am the reality to your myth.’
The city itself had been sacked by the Lydians, but 300 years later was rebuilt better than ever. She was a city that was dead and had come back to life. Thus Jesus’ picture is letting them know – HE knows them, very well indeed!
More next time – till then: be encouraged – for Jesus knows YOU very well indeed. Be encouraged – and COME ALIVE!
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